Ntouba red card drama overshadows Hre derby

HARARE – The decision by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to nullify Dynamos striker Christian Ntouba’s red card has overshadowed the eagerly-anticipated Harare derby between the Glamour Boys and CAPS United scheduled for Sunday at Rufaro Stadium.

In a brain-explosion moment, the in-form Cameroonian striker was red-carded in the tension-filled 1-1 draw against Highlanders at Rufaro Stadium last weekend for head-butting a Bosso defender three minutes before full time.

However, Zifa referees’ committee chaired by the association’s president Philip Chiyangwa rescinded the league current top scorer’s sending off on Monday after Dynamos had lodged an appeal that triggered widespread outrage from football followers.

As a result, a lot of conspiracy theories have emerged with some viewing the decision as a plot by Zifa to help Dynamos win this year’s league title. The Glamour Boys are in serious contention for the title as they sit third on the log table with 49 points while trailing log leaders Chicken Inn by two points but crucially, they have two games in hand.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has since voiced their concerns on how the whole red card issue was handled, blaming Dynamos for taking a shortcut by appealing directly to Zifa instead of using the proper channel of going through the league’s secretariat.

Former CAPS United striker Alois Bunjira yesterday joined the debate saying: “Dynamos was wrong by writing directly to Zifa and the only honourable thing for them is not to use Ntouba in their next two matches.

“I know people would say a lot of things that I’m talkative and stuff but something bad has happened and it needs to be condemned,” Bunjira said to the Daily News.

“That boy is a very good player but we should not be seen promoting something bad. We understand he was frustrated and was never protected by the referee. I saw him being kicked on several occasions but surprisingly, the referee never acted and allowed the game to continue.

“But it doesn’t give the player the right to head-butt someone. It was wrong of him and I felt Dynamos was actually supposed to reprimand their player before lodging a proper complaint via the right channels’’.

Yesterday, Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa was not at liberty to discuss chances of Ntouba taking part in Sunday’s match but instead chose to talk about his team’s state of preparedness ahead of the match.

“I wouldn’t want to talk about that, it’s something that is beyond our control,” Mutasa said before turning to their fixture against CAPS United on Sunday.

“It’s another tough game against CAPS United side that is currently doing well. We have been preparing well and we are looking forward to a good game,” he added.

“I think we have been talking of this match as an outstanding fixture and we now want to capitalise, we want to maximise and make full use of it.”

The Glamour Boys will be without two of their key players in defender Lincoln Zvasiya and midfielder Tichaona Chipunza, who are suspended for picking up three yellow cards. But Mutasa is however, upbeat about his team’s chances on Sunday.

“Lincoln and Tichaona are some of the reasons why we are where we are today. They have been doing well and their absence will obviously be huge to the team. But we are, however, expecting those who will fill in their shoes to do a good job,” Mutasa said.

“We are welcoming back defenders (Marshal) Machazane and (Obey) Mwerahari to the team. They have been training well throughout the week and we expect them to be part and parcel of the team that will do duty on Sunday.”

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