BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe’s CAF Confederation Cup representatives, Triangle United, wouldn’t have yearned for any better debut in this continental showpiece than knitting a strong 5-0 victory over Burundi’s Rukinzo in the preliminary round first-leg last weekend.
Of course, Rukinzo are no big name in the African safari but Triangle aren’t any better and a maiden show is not usually easy, especially when a team has to travel for over 300 kilometres to play at an adopted home because theirs fails to meet the minimum requirements.
That is a predicament the Chiredzi-based team is facing and they had to use Barbourfields in Bulawayo after their home venue, Gibbo, failed the homologation test.
But that wasn’t showing in the entire 90 minutes as they put their visitors to the sword with a commanding show before an appreciative crowd in the country’s second city.
They will be on the road to face the same opponents next week but a 5-0 score line is as comfortable as it sounds though their coach Taurai Mangwiro has warned against complacency.
Mangwiro is no stranger to continental football having previously coached at the now-defunct Monomotapa.
“Football is a strange game sometimes. You have to look at it like this. If you can score five goals at home what can stop your opponents from scoring the same number in their own backyard?
“That is the nature of the game. We might be carrying a healthy lead but we are definitely in for a huge task in Burundi.
“I am happy of course that in the team’s very first match in this tournament we have managed to do well. We look forward to the second leg and I am confident we can write a fairy-tale in this competition if we stay focused and grounded,” said Mangwiro.
In the opening weekend of CAF competitions of the 2019-2020 season, the country’s CAF Champions League representatives, FC Platinum, also did well to force a 0-0 draw away in Malawi against Nyasa Big Bullets.
Bullets are ironically coached by a Zimbabwean, Callisto Pasuwa, whose stock rose remarkably after becoming the first coach from the country to win the local championship four times in a row with giants Dynamos.
He will now lead the Malawians in the second leg of this preliminary round next week aiming to dump FC Platinum who reached the group stages last season.
Generally, it was a weekend of mixed fortunes for SADC teams as others put a foot in the first round while others still have some work to do to progress.
It is still a tough call in the Champions League where the region’s teams mostly faced off against each other.
Orlando Pirates of South Africa fell 0-1 away to Zambia’s Green Eagles while Tanzania’s Young Africans and Botswana’s Township Rollers shared the spoils with their match ending 1-1 in Tanzania.
Primero Agosto of Angola emerged 2-0 winners over KMKM of Zanzibar with Petro de Luanda winning with an identical margin over Lesotho’s Matlama.
South Africa’s lower division side TS Galaxy also had a dream start with a 1-0 home victory over Saint Louis of Seychelles.