CAPS United defender, Dennis Dauda has been ruled out of the team’s Caf Champions League Group B football match against Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow, giving coach Lloyd Chitembwe a defensive headache.
BY HENRY MHARA
Dauda, the pillar of strength in the team’s last line of defence, twisted his ankle in the 2-1 win over USM Alger last week, and while he soldiered on and finished the game, the repercussions are beginning to be felt.
United assistant coach, Fungai “Kwashi” Kwashi yesterday said the lanky defender, who was named in the Warriors squad, which went into camp on Monday, was not fit for tomorrow’s match after undergoing tests.
Kwashi said his player could be out for at least three weeks, and is a major doubt for the Warriors Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Liberia on June 11.
“Dennis has a long-term injury. We did some tests on his injury and he could be out for three to four weeks,” Kwashi said.
“It’s sad that we will miss such a good player for such crucial matches and he is obviously hurt, but what can we do? We will have to soldier on. The players that are there will have to play for their teammate and make sure that they get a good result.”
Dauda is one of the six injury concerns that Chitembwe has in his camp.
Captain Hardlife Zvirekwi was initially ruled out of the match earlier this week due to a hamstring problem, but Kwashi said he had started training and a decision would be made today.
“He had light training today (yesterday) and we will continue to assess him,” the Green Machine assistant coach said.
“He remains a major doubt for the match, but we will see how it goes at training tomorrow (today), then we can make a final decision.”
Other crocked players in the United camp include goalkeeper, Edmore Sibanda, who has a swollen ankle and is another major doubt for the Al Ahly match.
Ronald Chitiyo, the scorer of the two goals that downed USM Alger, Devon Chafa, Valentine Musarurwa and Tafadzwa Rusike are all struggling with injuries, and while they missed their team’s league match at the weekend, they are all expected to pass a fitness test for the match.
The news is a huge blow to Chitembwe and his side, who are looking to build on their win over USM with another victory at home, against Al Ahli Tripoli, the only side yet to get maximum points in Group B.
With Dauda out, Chitembwe is likely to call upon Carlton Mudzabwa to hold fort, while Kudzai Nyamupfukudza could come in if Zvirekwi fails to pass the late fitness test.
Kwashi, though, is not worried much by the injuries in his camp, taking inspiration from English Premier League football giants, Manchester United’s exploits in the Uefa Europa League final last week.
“If you remember how many Manchester United players were on crutches when they won the Europa League, they had a huge list of injuries, but went on to lift the trophy,” he said.
“We should draw inspiration from that. We had a lot of problems last season, including those injuries, but we still managed to win the league. That is the same spirit that we would want again this season.”
Caps United are second in Group B with three points, the same number as USM Alger, but the Zimbabwean team is ahead on the log standings due to a superior head-to-head record as per Caf regulations on tie breakers.
Egyptian giants Zamalek, who beat Caps United 2-0 last month, top the group with four points, while Al Ahli have one.
Two teams from the group qualify to the competition’s quarter-finals.
After Friday’s match, the same day Zamalek host USM Alger, Caps United travel to Tripoli on June 21 before hosting Zamalek on July 2.
They will conclude their group matches with an away trip to USM Alger five days later.