Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum jetted into the country yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League preliminary round first leg against Nyasa Big Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions chartered a plane, but were told it cannot land at Chileka Airport because of rehabilitation of the runway.
In an interview yesterday, Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said they will leave Liongwe today for Blantyre through Malawian Airlines with the hosts set to pay the expenses.
They have travelled with their head coach Norman Mapeza, who had to cut short his sick leave for the encounter, according to the club’s public relations officer Chido Chizondo.
“Yes, the coach is back and has resumed his duties. He returned Monday and is now in charge of the team as we prepare for our Champions League away to the Malawi champions,” he told www.newsday.com.
In his absence, the Zvishavane-based side’s assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe was in charge.
Platinum have brought a strong squad with some new signings for the campaign.
They beefed up the squad with Tawana Chikore, Evidence Tendayi, Guyve Mawete Nsilia, Panashe Mutimbanyoka, Keith Madera and Kelvin Mangiza.
Meanwhile, the team had to get assurance from Zimbabwe High Commission in Lilongwe on the state of security in the Blantyre following post-election demonstration taking place in the country.
Bullets assistant coach Peter Mponda was confident that they can utilise home ground advantage tomorrow.
“We have a team of up-and-coming players who have proved that they are capable of delivering. With home support, we should be able to collect maximum points,” he said.
The return leg is set for Barbourfields Stadium the weekend of August 23-25.
The winner of the two-legged qualifier will play either Simba FC of Tanzania or Uniao Desportiva do Songo of Mozambique in the next stage.
Meanwhile,Universal Industries Limited, through their Nyika purified water brand, have promised Nyasa Big Bullets continued support as The People’s Team starts the CAF Champions League journey.
After presenting over 30 cases of purified bottled water worth over K100 000 to Bullets in Blantyre on Wednesday, the company’s national sales and marketing manager Elson Mzembe said their partnership will run throughout the championship. In an interview, Chigoga said they were happy to have a corporate partner on their campaign.