Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza gears up for title defence

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The former Galatasaray midfielder led the Platinum Miners to their maiden Premier Soccer League (PSL) title last season

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is bracing up for a tougher challenge as they battle to defend their crown.

The Platinum Miners are four points clear at the top of the PSL standings with the season having just passed through the halfway mark.

After marking their start to the second half of the season with a 2-1 home defeat to ZPC Kariba, before being held to a 1-1 draw by Yadah Stars last weekend, Mapeza has predicted a rough path ahead.

They host giants Caps United at Mandava Stadium on Saturday, a much-anticipated showdown which Mapeza is cautious about.

“We will have the same usual approach (against Caps United). We respect them as one of the clubs that is playing in the PSL. The same respect we give Mutare City or Ngezi Platinum. We know it’s a massive game for us as a club,” Mapeza said.

“We need to go there with a positive mind. That is the most important thing. We know we haven’t started the second half of the season to our liking as a club. Like I said before, the second half of the season is not going to be easy. The most important thing is not to lose focus.”

Caps United have never been easy opponents for FC Platinum and Mapeza is aware of the challenge that lies in wait for his side.

The reverse fixture between the two sides in Harare ended goalless but Mapeza is not reading much into their past meetings.

“Football differs each and every season,” he said.

“We haven’t been getting some positive results against Caps, there have been many draws with them. It is a different ball game together now. We know where we are standing and we need to start picking up points. We just hope the guys play to the best of their abilities on Saturday, we might break the jinx.”

The team from the Midlands welcome former Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows striker Thomas Chideu who has just signed with them.

Chideu’s arrival is expected to further boost FC Platinum who are the second-highest scoring team in the league so far with 29 goals.

“We just brought in Thomas to give us another dimension in our attack,” said Mapeza.

Fellow Platinum Miners Ngezi Platinum are on second-position on the log, having scored two more goals than the leaders.

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Ngezi started the season on a high but lost steam towards the halfway stage of the season when they lost four consecutive matches.

Their rough patch allowed FC Platinum to open a four-point gap at the top, but after beating Triangle United 3-1 last weekend, they now prepare for a trip to the capital city to meet giants Dynamos as they seek to continue their recovery.

What could give Ngezi some confidence of victory is that Dynamos are enduring a tough season that has seen them struggle in an unfamiliar 10th spot, and they have not won their last two games.

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