CHRISTIAN Ntouba has returned to Dynamos after his intended transfer to South African side SuperSport United fell through, news that would be well received by the Harare football giants’ fans and at the same time loathed by the team’s executive.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Cameroonian, who has been a subject of numerous proposed transfer moves to clubs down south since the player transfer window opened at the start of January, was expected back in Harare last night.
Ntouba was invited for trials by SuperSport last week, and appeared odds-on favourite to replace Jeremy Brockie, who joined Sundowns some few weeks ago.
However, the Pretoria side changed their mind and opted for Warriors and Maritzburg United forward Evans Rusike instead, who they signed on a three-year deal.
Rusike had been a target for a number of South African giants for some time now, including Kaizer Chiefs, but the striker was holding out for a move to Europe.
Maritzburg chief executive officer, Stanley Matthews admitted they were forced to put their most prized asset on the market to balance their books.
The signing of Rusike, who is a tried and tested player in the Super Diski, meant Ntouba would have to wait for the next transfer window to try his luck again.
Dynamos coach, Lloyd Mutasa yesterday confirmed that Ntouba was returning to the club, where he still has a year left on his contract.
Mutasa has been on the market to replace Ntouba.
“He is scheduled to arrive at 10pm today (yesterday) from South Africa. I don’t have the full details, but I have been told that he is coming back because their (SuperSport’s) slots are full after signing Evans Rusike,” Mutasa said.
Ntouba’s manager, Gilbert Sengwe was not reachable for a comment.
“His return gives me a bittersweet feeling. When a player does well and get offers from abroad, you appreciate it because it’s good for his development. The other part of me wanted him to go so that he could improve his career.
“On the other hand, I believe his presence at Dynamos is key in our near-future objectives. We welcome him back home and we hope he will continue from where he finished last season because he was one of the integral parts of the squad. But over and above that, the player has to be happy, and the club as well,” Mutasa said.
He, although relieved by the return of his number one striker, he would continue with his search for a back-up with an unnamed Cameroonian, who was recommended by Ntouba, expected in the country next week.
Two other foreigners, Tshipapa Babadi and Francis Lukonde from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are also being assessed at the club, with Mutasa saying a decision on the duo would be made by tomorrow.
Midfielder Tatenda Dzumbunu is also training with Dynamos, and there is a big chance that the former FC Platinum star is joining the club to add on to the list of other new arrivals in Raphael Manuvire, Blessing Moyo, Jimmy Tigere and James Marufu.
It is the return of Ntouba though that will excite the Dynamos fans, who had looked dismayed at the imminent departure of the striker, who had proved a darling at the club since joining last year.
The club’s executive will not have the same feelings though as they were hoping to cash in on him, and had slapped a $200 000 price tag on his head.
Ntouba netted 12 goals in his debut season in the country to help Dynamos to a silver medal last season.
His impressive performances saw him being voted as one of the Premiership’s 11 best players of the season, consequently attracting interest from South African clubs, with Ajax Cape Town and Polokwane City the first to inquire.
Ntouba was close to joining Polokwane City after the club agreed to meet Dynamos’ asking price, but they couldn’t agree on personal terms.
He was invited for trials by Bidvest Wits in December, but a deal fell through after he picked an injury in training.