This is a contest that should not go under the radar. It will pit a star studded Simba SC side against Platinum FC, who have shown over the last two seasons that they do know how to manoeuver the CAF Champions League Qualifying Rounds.

Platinum FC Probable XI: Mhari – Muduwiwa, Stima, Bello, Chikore – Madzongwe – Mbweti, Banda, Chikwende, Ilunga – Songani (4-1-4-1).

Simba Probable XI: Manula – Kapombe, Hussein, Nyoni, Wawa – Mkude, Dilunga, Mzamiru – Bocco, Miquissone, Chama (4-3-3).

The first leg of this CAFCL First Round tie will be played in Harare on 23rd December 2020 from 3pm CAT.

What is at Stake?

Platinum FC is impressive. They have reached the CAF Champions League group stage in each of the last two season. The Zimbabwean side is a good case for why the CAFCL Group Stage should be expanded to 32 teams.

They have not yet won a match at that level but we are pleased that they maintained their reputation of winning Qualifying Round matches this season. Platinum FC had not played a competitive match since February 2020 but still had it in them to beat Costa do Sol, of Mozambique, home and away in the Preliminary Round.

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This is the kind of consistency that Simba SC have been looking for on the continental scene. They have spent heavily and built plenty of hype around themselves under the stewardship of, chairman, Mohammed Dewji.

The fact that they knocked out Plateau United in the previous round is promising but the close nature of the encounter leaves a lot of Simba fans uneasy.

What will the Match be like?

Simba SC will be without Bernard Morrison and David Kameta for the first leg in Zimbabwe. Will they be missed that much though? The Tanzanian champions have a fairly deep squad, what with a whooping 10 foreign players.

The players that Sven Vandenbroeck will pick to start will be determined by his approach more than anything else. We would hope that he will be adventurous and as such give starts to, former Gor Mahia duo, Francis Kahata and Meddie Kagere. The latter has been a reliable goal scorer for Simba but tactical concern may require that Kagere starts on the bench. This was the veteran’s fate during the matches against Plateau United.

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There will still be plenty of firepower on the pitch for the Tanzanian if the probable XI is actually the one that starts. Chama and Miquissone have the ability to create chances on their own and John Bocco gets the goals (he is still no Kagere though).

I do not think that Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza, will be that worried about Simba’s attacking threat though. He has had to deal with the likes of Al Ahly and Etoile Sahel in the past. In fact, shutting opponent’s attacking threat is what he is good at. If they settle in the match quicker than Simba then he will be having a hearty time.

Mapeza has strengthened his Platinum side with five players and three are part of the starting XI – Eric Banda, Elie Ilunga and Silas Songani. But they have shown against Costa do Sol that the new faces have not disrupted the cohesiveness of the team.

Prediction

Platinum FC 1-0 Simba

Platinum FC are formidable at home and their experience in these types of matches is another advantage they have over Simba. The Tanzanians were not disrupted by Covid-19 so they have that going for them but it looks like the goals have been drying up in their last few matches.