HARARE – FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza has challenged his players not to get carried away with their perfect start to the 2016 Castle Lager Premiership season.
The Zvishavane-based side have started the new season like a house on fire winning all of their opening four matches.
That perfect start has seen them occupy the top spot with 12 points leading second-placed CAPS United with two points.
FC Platinum can take their perfect record to five games when they clash with Harare City at Mandava Stadium this afternoon.
This perfect start to the season is in sharp contrast to the platinum miner’s awful beginning of the 2015 season which saw them only winning once in their opening six league matches.
Despite such a slow start, Mapeza’s side went on to launch a serious bid for the title before they eventually finished in third place and lost out to champions Chicken Inn.
This time around, FC Platinum began their season by posting wins over Tsholotsho, Highlanders, Chapungu and Ngezi Platinum.
With his side displaying such good football early on, Mapeza, who won the league title once with the now defunct Monomotapa in 2008, is confident they can achieve great things at the end of the season if they maintain cool heads.
“I think everything is fine, we are looking forward to our match against Harare City. The most important thing is to remain focused,” Mapeza told the Daily News yesterday.
“We should never get carried away. We need to provide positive answers on the field of play, both for ourselves, for the public opinion and certainly for our fans.
“This is the game that can also help us gauge our strength. We are in a good state with all the players fit for the match. We are treating this game seriously.”
At FC Platinum, Mapeza has raised a competitive side that is made up of a blend of youthful players like Tatenda Dzumbunu, Walter Musona, and Brian Muzondiwa, alongside veterans like former Dynamos defender Gift Bello and goalkeeper Petros Mhari, and on their day they are virtually unplayable.
Although his side has swept aside all the teams they have faced this season, the former Warriors coach, is fully aware of the attacking threat posed by the Sunshine Boys.
Harare City have had an indifferent start to their season after winning two and losing two of their opening four matches.
Taurai Mangwiro’s side travel to Zvishavane on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 win over struggling Hwange last weekend.
“They have a good squad,” Mapeza said. “They are strong in the attacking phase, they have quality there. They have been scoring goals in their matches. One thing which makes them dangerous is that any player in their team can score goals.”
Consistency has been the missing ingredient for Harare City this season which is something Mangwiro is desperate to get right today.
“Obviously from our experience last year, we would want to play differently as you saw us employ a new system against Hwange which yielded four goals for us,” Mangwiro said.
“We will try to approach the game in a similar way irrespective of the fact that we will be playing away from home where we haven’t done well.
“We know the team that we are up against haven’t lost in any of their matches and we have already lost twice.
“We didn’t do well the last time we visited FC Platinum. They are one team which is tough; we beat them at home and they beat us at their home.”
Mangwiro will be hoping new-signing Raphael Manuvire keeps his rich vein of form he has shown since joining the Sunshine Boys.
The former ZPC Kariba man, has so far scored three goals in his side’s opening four matches, was outstanding in City’s last game when he scored a brace and created two goals for Tendai Samanja and William Manondo.
Ronald Chitiyo, who many expected to light up City’s midfield, has thus far failed to replicate the touch and class he showed at former league champions Dynamos since reuniting with Mangwiro at the Sunshine Boys.
The diminutive midfielder was benched by Mangwiro in City’s last encounter before being introduced as a second-half substitute.
Gangly forward Francesco Zikumbawire is in line to lead Mangwiro’s attack alongside newboy Grey Kufandada.
Goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube, who made a schoolboy blunder during the Hwange game last weekend, might be given the nod to start in goals against his former side, ahead of Maxwell Nyamupanedengu.
Today: Chicken Inn v Bulawayo City (Luveve Stadium), Tsholotsho v Ngezi Platinum Stars (White City Stadium), FC Platinum v Harare City (Mandava Stadium),
Tomorrow: Mutare City Rovers v How Mine (Sakubva Stadium), CAPS United v Border Strikers (National Sports Stadium), Hwange v Dynamos (Colliery Stadium), Triangle United v ZPC Kariba (Gibbo Stadium), Highlanders v Chapungu (Barbourfields Stadium)