Zimbabwean football, for years has been dominated by teams from the country`s two largest cities. Until recently, no club from outside Harare and Bulawayo had ever won the league title. The years 2017 and 2018 have been monumental in the history of the modern day premier league that started in the early 1900s.
Two teams from the mining towns of Zvishavane and Mhondoro/Ngezi have defied the odds of late. FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum have changed the face of the local game. Both teams have been involved in the equation solution of the league title matrix for the past two seasons.
However, Zvishavane`s FC Platinum have pipped their Platinum counterparts Ngezi in both occasions and on Saturday they commence a historic journey on unfamiliar terrains.
Formed in the year 1994, Pure Platinum Play were known as Mimosa Football Club and only changed their name to FC Platinum, after gaining promotion to the topflight in 2011 being captained by battle hardened former Masvingo United defender Godfrey Dondo. They campaigned in the ZIFA Central Region and few would have predicted that after eight years in the premiership, FC Platinum would play hosts to African giants Orlando Pirates and Esperance in the lucrative Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League mini league phase.
Amidst the club`s joy of achieving such an amazing feat, CAF condemned their fortress Mandava Stadium. It was deemed unfit to host matches of such magnitude. Alternatively, the club preferred Bulawayo`s Barbourfields Stadium, perhaps due to the fact that the club is home to quiet a number of players with Bulawayo origins.
Talk of anchorman Kelvin Madzongwe, the Moyo twins Kelvin and Elvis, Rahman Kutsanzira, Mkhokheli Dube, Edmore Chirambadare and Thomas Chideu who both turned out for Bulawayo sides Chicken Inn and Highlanders respectively, goalkeeper Wallace Magalane, and utility player William Stima amongst others.
Interestingly the club preferred to use Rufaro Stadium in the year 2012 when they were knocked out of CAF Confederations Cup by Sudanese outfit El Mereikh.
The most unfortunate part for Pure Platinum Play is that they face a club that commands a huge following in Bulawayo. The Buccaneers all the way from Johannesburg might be away from home on Saturday , but they will definitely feel at home. Many have vowed to come out in numbers and support the South African giants because of the “relationship” between the Bucs and Bulawayo`s most supported team Highlanders.
Already, the Bulawayo giants’ hierarchy has rallied its fans to give undiluted maximum support to FC Platinum, but the question is; will the Highlanders fans wear their black and white regalia, which is the common denominator between them and the visitors at Emagumeni on Saturday ?
FC Platinum`s colours are green but three quarters of Barbourfields won’t be putting on green, instead black and white will be the domineering colour. This is likely going to make the Bucs feel at home.
Norman Mapeza and his boys should thoroughly brace themselves for the Barbourfields Stadium battle, whether Bulawayo chooses to be hostile or amicable. His boys have to be at their level best to thwart the marauding Pirates offensive play of Zambians Justin Shonga, Augustine Mulenga and Vincent Pule. It will be a daunting task but then again, Pirates players are humans, nothing special about them.
Bulawayo would also welcome back its former son Kudakwashe Mahachi who now turns out for the Sea Robbers. Marshall Munetsi is another Zimbabwean in the Pirates team.
At the end of it all, FC Platinum are not representing Zvishavane but Zimbabwe as a whole.If FC Platinum loses then its Zimbabwe that lost. That is where patriotism comes in. Everyone in Bulawayo is expected to give Pure Platinum Play all the support they require to kick start their mini league campaign on a positive note.
Other teams in Group B include defending champions Esperance from Tunisia and Guinea’s FC Horoya. If FC Platinum finish top of the group, they will proceed to the semifinals, thereby flying the country`s flag even higher.
GO FC PLATINUM GO!
GO PURE PLATINUM PLAY GO!