Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter

IN just under two months Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions FC Platinum will be returning to Total Caf Champions League action where everyone involved with the club from the dressing room to administration has made it clear that they don’t just want to make up the numbers, but do well.

Returning to the African safari is not what’s giving Pure Platinum Play a headache right now, but the physical and mental condition of the players, who have been out of the game time since March.

FC Platinum’s players last played competitive football in their 2-0 defeat of Highlanders in the Castle Challenge Cup that was played at Barbourfields Stadium.

Soon after sports were frozen globally due to outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government quickly imposed a number of measures aimed at containing spread of the virus, including suspension of all sporting activities.

Whilst low risk sports with less contact have been given the green light to resume, football remains in abyss.

And this is what is worrying FC Platinum, as Champions League dates draw closer.

Everyone understands and appreciates why the game hasn’t been allowed to resume in the country, but the FC Platinum case is an isolated one that needs an isolated solution, and special consideration is needed for the Zvishavane-based side to resume group training.

Games might be two months away, but it’s not just about playing. There is the technical and tactical aspect of the game and also, more crucially, the players’ physical and mental condition, as they ready themselves for such an important assignment.

It’s also not just about being physically fit, but the players need to be match fit and that alone may take up anything up to eight weeks.

Former England physio Gary Lewin, speaking on The Football Show programme in May ahead of the English Premier League return, outlined the complexities of retuning to fitness.

He highlighted differences between physical fitness and match fitness, and according to a report by allfootballapp.com, Lewin said while one can build physical fitness through running and strength sessions, nothing compares to the full contact competitiveness you get in training sessions and more importantly in friendly matches or reserve games.

He said in a pre-season you would start off with a couple of weeks of very light training, close contact rather than full contact, and then build up into contact sessions.

“Working on a players’ strength, power, and reaction times, and then you go into contact training and friendlies, slowly building up the competition and intensity over a six to eight-week period,” Lewin said.

This is what FC Platinum need before their first Champions League preliminary round encounter on the weekend of November 20-22.

It is due to these reason that the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) must consider treating the FC Platinum case differently and allow the club to train as a group as soon as possible.

The club needs everyone’s support at this point in time because it will be carrying the country’s flag in the Champions League.

The club has previously said that it was ready to meet all health protocols as outlined by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

Time is certainly running out for the club and the sooner authorities grant it the green light to begin group training the better.