HARARE – Following a successful 2017 season which saw them win two trophies — the Castle Lager Premiership title and the Castle Challenge Cup — Norman Mapeza has given his side an extended break.
The platinum miners will be the country’s sole representatives in continental competitions next year after they landed their maiden league title in the just-ended season.
Pure Platinum Play will play in the African Champions League while there will be no Zimbabwean representative in the Africa Confederation Cup.
Harare City, who won the Chibuku Super Cup, turned down the opportunity to play in the Confed Cup following their relegation from the top flight league.
Mapeza expects his players to be back in training in the first week of January as they begin preparations for the African safari campaign.
The Zvishavane-based side will begin their Champions League campaign in the preliminary round stage with a tricky encounter against Angolan side Desportivo de Agosto.
The Zimbabwean champions will travel to Angola for the first leg on the weekend of February 9-11 with the second leg scheduled for Mandava Stadium a week later.
If Pure Platinum Play get past Desportivo de Agosto, they will face the winner of the preliminary round clash between South African champions Bidvest Wits and Mauritian side Pamplemousses for a ticket into the group stages.
Mapeza admitted that there is little time left between now and their trip to Angola for their first match against Desportivo de Agosto, it was also important to give his players a rest during this festive season.
“We are currently on a break and we will be only resuming training during the first week of January. We felt players needed time to recuperate after an enthralling season,” Mapeza told the Daily News.
“It was a difficult season and it took a lot of energy out of the players so they need the rest. It’s also festive holidays and surely it will not be fair to keep them away from their families and beloved ones. I don’t think they will be able to fully concentrate.”
Mapeza is currently finalising his final squad for the Champions League with the deadline for registration of players set for December 31.
The platinum miners have been linked with a number of targets in the transfer market but nothing has been finalised yet.
Mapeza also revealed his willingness to reach the group stages of the tournament a feat that was achieved by last season’s champions CAPS United.
Lloyd Chitembwe’s charges caught the eye in Africa with some captivating performances.
Makepekepe surprised many as they dumped five-time African champions TP Mazembe of the DR Congo en-route to the group stages of the tournament.
They were then drawn in a tough Group B that also included Egyptian giants Zamelek, Libya’s Al-Ahli Tripoli and Algerian side USM Alger.
They however, finished the competition bottom of the group with six points following two home wins against Zamalek and USM Alger.