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Mutasa in Ntouba fix

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THE uncertainty over the availability of Christian Ntouba for Dynamos in their weekend Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clash against Caps United in the Big Harare Derby has left coach Lloyd Mutasa (pictured) in a quandary as he prepares for what promises to be a season-defining match.

BY HENRY MHARA

Ntouba was red-carded in the dying moments of the Harare giants’ feisty 1-1 draw against Highlanders on Sunday after he head-butted defender Peter Muduhwa off the ball, but the country’s soccer governing body Zifa on Monday annulled the decision.

However, the PSL, an affiliate of Zifa, on Tuesday declared that the referee’s decision stood, a development that left Mutasa confused over whether to include the hitman in his plans for the Caps United match.

“When we prepare for matches, normally we know who is available to play and who is up and about. But with this scenario, we are kept guessing so even at training we are forced to try different combinations in case he (Ntouba) will not be available to play because of the circumstances beyond our control,” Mutasa said.

“The good part is we have trained with him for a long time now, so he understands what he is supposed to do. So at training we have been using him in the first team here and there and then in the second team to prepare for any scenario. We want to have a Plan A and B in place.”

But Mutasa said the club would meet tomorrow to decide whether to use Ntouba in the match, even if he has been given the green light, amid pressure from different football stakeholders, including some of the team’s supporters, who feel the decision by Zifa is flawed and can be viewed as a way to aid them win the championship by the mother body.

“It’s good to hear sentiments from some of our own stakeholders, including our supporters, and we also have our opinion as the technical team. We will sit down as an institution to try and find a way forward, a decision which will be good for the club and football at large.”

Ntouba has since apologised to the club for the head butt.

“I spoke to the young man and he gave his side of the story. I told him that in the position we are at the moment (in the title race), we don’t want to face such obstacles. But for us to be champions we need to be able to overcome such, to remain calm, something that he failed to do. But he promised that it’s one of those things that will not happen again. He has apologised to us and promised to remain as professional as before. These are some of the things you are going to face when you are fighting for the championship, but we have to be strong mentally and physically to get to the finishing line,” Mutasa said.

While Ntouba’s availability for the Caps United match is uncertain, what is certain is the unavailability of Lincoln Zvasiya and Tichaona Chipunza, both suspended for accumulating yellow cards.

Mutasa said he had enough cover with Obey Mwerahari and Marshall Machazane set to return after a few weeks on the sidelines.

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