Striker Christian Ntouba could be available for Dynamos’ next Castle Lager Premier Soccer League fixture after taking part in the team’s training sessions this week.
BY HENRY MHARA
This was revealed by team manager Richard Chihoro, who said the Cameroonian had been included in the 30-man squad that was set to travel to Botswana for an invitational tournament.
Dynamos and Highlanders had been invited to compete in the four-team tournament, the Supa Power Cup, against two Botswana teams, Tafic and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.
However, the Zimbabwean giants withdrew from the tournament yesterday, the day they were supposed to travel to Gaborone, cancelling the trip after the organisers failed to honour the contract.
Chihoro, speaking yesterday morning before the two teams had announced their cancellation of the trip, had said Ntouba would play a part in Botswana.
He also gave an update on other players who have been struggling with injuries in the camp of late.
“He (Ntouba) trained with the rest of the squad this week. He has recovered well. He is fit to play and if selected, I think he would be fine,” Chihoro said.
“There has been a lot of improvements (in terms of recoveries). Obey Mwerahari and Lincoln Zvasiya are also training well. Carlos Rusere has started light training, but Cleopas Kapupurika is still out.”
Ntouba picked a groin injury in the team’s 1-0 league win over Black Rhinos earlier this month and missed the subsequent game against Hwange and a friendly against Highlanders last week.
There were worries that the big striker would miss a lot more games, including the trip to How Mine, but it appears the injury is not bad as the team initially feared.
It was not clear yesterday whether Dynamos and Highlanders’ matches against How Mine and Tsholotsho, which had been postponed due to the formers’ expected unavailability, would now go ahead as initially scheduled.
The possible return of Ntouba would be a massive boost for coach Lloyd Mutasa, who will be without his skipper Ocean Mushure for the How Mine match due to suspension.
Without Ntouba, Mutasa used Tawanda Macheka as the target man in the 2-0 win over Hwange, but the youngster’s performance did very little to suggest that he is ready to carry the burden of leading the attack.
The cancellation of the trip to Botswana could also be bad news for Mutasa, who would have wanted to gauge Ntouba’s match fitness in a competitive game.
The cancellation was confirmed by the two clubs yesterday.
Dynamos president Keni Mubaiwa said they decided to withdraw after the organisers, Joy Foundation, failed to disburse appearance fees to his team.
“We had agreed that they would give us 150 000 pula before we leave the country. But they did not send us the money. I spoke to one of their representatives, who said the sponsor of the tournament had pulled out,” he said.
“She said the sponsor was not happy with the bad publicity that they were getting, citing a story published this week, where Highlanders threatened to pull out if they did not receive their allowances up-front.
“She had wanted us to travel and sort the issue in Botswana, but that is not what we agreed. So we decided to withdraw and focus on our league assignments.”
Highlanders released a statement yesterday, announcing their cancellation of the trip.
“We wish to inform that our club, Highlanders FC, will no longer be participating in the Supa Power Cup in Botswana on August 19 (tomorrow) as originally indicated,” club chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube said.
“Our withdrawal has been a natural consequence owing to failure by the organisers of the tournament to adhere to previously agreed contractual obligations. May all fans and supporters be advised accordingly.”