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FC Platinum face Orlando Pirates invasion of Bulawayo in Caf Champions League opener

09:05 EAT 05/01/2019
Lameck Nhamo FC Platinum
The South African giants command a huge following in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo and could feel more at home

Caf's decision to move next week's Caf Champions League between FC Platinum and Orlando Pirates from Mandava Stadium could prove advantageous to the visitors in terms of support.

The platinum miners home ground Mandava was condemned by Caf for failing to satisfy certain required standards, and the match will now be played at Barbourfields Stadium in Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo which is 182 kilometers away from FC Platinum's home town of Zvishavane.

"The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) advises the football family that FC Platinum’s Total Champions League group match against Orlando Pirates will be played at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo. The Confederation of African Football (Caf) advised Zifa that FC Platinum’s traditional home ground, Mandava Stadium does not meet minimum requirements for this stage of Africa’s prestigious club competition," Zifa said in a statement.

FC Platinum are likely to endure a hostile environment at Barbourfields, the home of Zimbabwean traditional giants Highlanders who fans split allegiance with Pirates.

Highlanders share the same black and white colours with Pirates as well as the crossbones salute. A huge number of Highlanders fans also wear Pirates shirts during every match.

Having played their group stage qualifying matches at Mandava, FC Platinum expressed anger at Caf's decision.

“We are naturally depressed because it came as a surprise on the 11th hour that our Mandava venue might not meet the requirements of Caf," FC Platinum media officer Chido Chizondo told The Herald.

"Both our players and supporters will have to take it positive so that as a team we don’t lose focus. We, however, take solace in that Barbourfields was our alternative venue for any eventualities on Mandava and we will urge all our fans who can travel to do so in numbers."

It is not the first time for Caf to ask FC Platinum to shift base from their Mandava fortress.

In the 2012 Caf Champions League first round, the platinum miners hosted Sudanese giants Al Merreikh at Harare's National Sports Stadium after Mandava was condemned by Caf.