HARARE – Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya insists his charges can still qualify for the African Confederation Cup pay-off round following a controversial defeat to Angolan side CRD Libolo in the first round first leg over the weekend.
The platinum miners, who are making their debut in the African Safari suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the home side with Brazilian striker Fabricio netting a brace for Libolo while Liberty Chakoroma scored what could be an important away goal for Ngezi.
The game was, however, marred by poor officiating by Zambian referee Wellington Kaoma, who hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons after he disallowed a legitimate Terrence Dzvukamanja goal late in the game.
Apart from poor officiating, the Ngezi delegation also received a hostile reception from their hosts who used every opportunity to frustrate them.
The platinum miners had travelled early to Angola hoping to have enough time to acclimatise but it all counted for nothing.
Madamburo arrived in the Angolan capital Luanda on Thursday evening and were supposed to have connected to Kwanza-Sul about 250km away from Luanda, where the game was played the following morning.
However, the team only arrived in Kwanza-Sul in two batches around 5pm after spending more than six hours at the airport where they had been dumped by the Angolan football officials.
Ndiraya, while incensed by the hostile and poor officiating, remains confident that his team has what it takes to overturn the result and progress to the next round when the teams clash in the return leg at the National Sports Stadium this Saturday.
“We have the second leg to come and it’s not like we have to make a historical comeback, what we have to do is very achievable,” Ndiraya said.
“If we win at home, we are there. I am optimistic we can get a positive result at home.
“I think a more justified result would have been a draw, but that’s football.
“We were denied a clear goal but there is little we can do about that.
“It just means we have to win at home and turn it around. We will prepare for Saturday’s return leg and the team will be ready.
“We now have an idea of how our opponents play. We will take the lessons from the first leg, work together and within the period of four days we will sharpen the rough edges and push hard in order to reach the next round.”