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FC Platinum's continental assault begins with Angolan examination

FC Platinum's continental assault begins with Angolan examination
From ESPN - February 8, 2018

Reigning Zimbabwean champions FC Platinum have made no secret of their desire to reach the CAF Champions League, but can they bypass a stern test in the preliminary round when they face Angolan side C.D. Primeiro de Agosto?

In recent years, Zimbabwean Premier League sides have struggled when up against opponents from their COSAFA near-neighbours, but ambitious FC Platinum may have the resources to ensure a reversal of fortunes.

Last term, Ngezi Platinum were eliminated from the CAF Confederation Cup in the First Round when they fell 2-1 over two legs to Recreativo do Libolo.

Similarly, back in 2012, Dynamos' run in the continent's secondary club competition was ended prematurely when they were defeated 1-0 by Inter Luanda in the Play-off Round after dropping into the competition from the CAF Champions League.

FC Platinum are also up against it this time around after being drawn against reigning Angolan champions Primeiro de Agosto in their two-legged preliminary tie.

It represents a poor draw for the Zvishavane-based club, with their opponents steeped both in domestic success and continental competition.

D'Agosto have won 11 domestic titles since the late 1970s, and are the Girabola's current dominant force, having retained their championship last term. Since 2005, they have finished in Angola's top two on eight occasions.

They have also been regular competitors in the CAF Champions League over the years, and posted a club best by reaching the quarter finals in 2009.

Primeiro de Agosto are exactly the kind of side - considering their profile and resources - who are primed to benefit from CAF's extended CL group stage, and they will be hoping that a long run in this competition will demonstrate that Angolan sides can tangle with the big boys from North Africa.

However, they will be wary of an FC Platinum side that have the quality - and the ambition - to build on last season's ZPSL success.

This is not the first time that Norman Mapeza's side have competed in the CAF Champions League - they were dumped out by Sudanese giants Al-Merreikh the first round in 2012 after qualifying as ZPSL runners-up - but they are a different outfit this time around.

Last term, the significant investment the club have received from owner Worthwhile Mugabe finally bore fruit, as they won the first Zimbabwean title of their 22-year history.

In doing so - and in outshining some of the nation's traditional giants - they became the first side from outside the league's two major centres of Harare and Bulawayo to win the title in post-independence Zimbabwe.

While Dynamos enjoyed a domestic hegemony between 2011 and 2014, recent title triumphs for Chicken Inn, CAPS United and now FC Platinum have blown the title race wide open.

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