BULAWAYO – FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza has warned the rest of the domestic league that his team will not be distracted by the African Champions League and will strive to defend their league title.
The last side that was able to defend their league title was Dynamos when they won the championship in 2014.
Since then, the preceding champions have all been overwhelmed by the demands of participating in African Safari while failing to mount a serious title challenge.
Last season, CAPS United reached the group stages of the African Champions League but those excursions into North Africa took a toll on Makepekepe.
At one stage, the Green machine was in the relegation zone as they struggled with juggling the tasks of competing on two fronts before eventually finishing in fifth place.
However, Mapeza, who previously won the league title with Monomotapa in 2008, is fully aware of the pitfalls associated mounting a title defence while at the same time hoping to make an impact in Africa.
This is the reason he has fought to retain most of the players in his title-winning side with the exception of Nqobizitha Masuku while also adding experience by bringing in new signings.
“We have assembled are very big squad and we will compete both in Africa and in the local league,” Mapeza said during a press conference in Bulawayo where his side is camping in preparation for the 2018 season.
“Some players will play in the local league and some in African Champions league. Our aim is to do well in both competitions.
“Our wish is to retain the league title. We always have the big three in Zimbabwe that is CAPS United, Dynamos and Highlanders. We will see how those big three will perform and we will then tell but my wish is to retain the league.”
The platinum miners have brought in former Highlanders captain Rahman Kutsanzira, Black Rhinos defender Jameson Mukombwe and Harare City’s Edwin Madhanhanga.
Midfielder Nigel Papias has also been recalled after loan spells at Chapungu and Bantu Rovers last season.
The clubs other new signings are Collin Phiri, Kelvin Madzongwe and Never Tigere.
Pure Platinum Play have also looked beyond our borders where they have brought in the foreign duo of Zambian forward Shadreck Mayembe and Cameroonian Albert Eonde.
FC Platinum had also hoped to sign Ngezi Platinum Stars utility player Liberty Chakoroma but the deal failed to materialise after the player’s current deal with his club was improved.
Mapeza was pleased with the way his new signings have assimilated at the Zvishavane-based club.
“So far they have acquitted themselves very well, I can’t complain,” the former Warriors coach said.
“They will obviously need time to understand our philosophy fully. The new players will bring a new dimension to the team and they are adapting very well.
“Coaches differ but football is the same, the way it is played all over the world. The new players are here now including foreigners and they have shown me signs that they are quality footballers; we just need to keep working and helping them to see what happens.”