Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
HE cast a big shadow on the Harare Derby at Rufaro on Sunday, even in his absence from the pitch, and Christian Epoupa Ntouba is back in the spotlight as Dynamos prepare for the controversial replay of their abandoned Castle Lager Premiership battle against Chapungu at Ascot on Thursday.
The Cameroonian striker was not fielded by the Glamour Boys after his expulsion from the Battle of Zimbabwe showdown against Highlanders for head-butting Peter Muduhwa in an off-the-ball incident.
Ntouba’s expulsion triggered a chain of events, including ZIFA’s farcical decision to try and rescind the red card on the basis that the referee of the day, Arnold Ncube, had failed terribly to discharge his duties.
But the Glamour Boys decided to do the reasonable thing not to field Ntouba in Sunday’s Harare Derby which they lost 0-1 to bitter rivals CAPS United.
However, the Cameroonian — who should be ineligible to play the next league match for the Glamour Boys — is available for the game against Chapungu at Ascot on Thursday.
The PSL tribunal which looked at the match, abandoned after a goalpost collapsed and attempts to repair it failed, with DeMbare leading 4-0, ruled that the match should be replayed with the two teams playing the remaining minutes of that encounter.
It means the match will start at the very minute it was stopped, with Dynamos leading 4-0, and only 34 minutes will be played.
However, that looks easier said than done.
The referee of the day Martin Chivandire and his assistants are the ones who will handle the short match.
But what has made the whole judgment a complex issue is that do they treat this match as a different game or as part of the sequence of matches which DeMbare are playing in their championship race?
For instance, if a player who is on four goals now, scores a goal on Thursday, his tally on the scorers charts will get another goal added.
How then, does the league deal with the issue of Ntouba?
Will he be available for this game, given the judgment says the players who were involved in the original fixture are the ones who should play, or will he be ineligible because he is serving a two-match ban?
Ntouba stole the limelight that day in Gweru with a top-of-the-drawer performance, creating two goals before he scored the fourth goal five minutes after the breather.
In the eighth minute, he released the ball to an unmarked Emmanuel Mandiranga in the box who obliged with a volley to get the first goal for the visitors.
Epoupa was to haunt Chapungu again in the 21st minute when he gained possession in the middle of the park before playing the ball into space, finding an on rushing Denver Mukamba who fired past goalkeeper Talbert Shumba to double DeMbare’s lead.
Mandiranga completed his brace in the 32nd minute when he tucked in a Mukamba cross from inside the box.
According to the judgment from the PSL Disciplinary Committee, the players are supposed to use the players who featured in the original line-up on
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June 18 at Ascot, including the players who were on the bench.
One of Chapungu players who was on the bench that day Nigel Papias has since joined Bantu Rovers.
And should be a player be unavailable through other reasons such as injury, like DeMbare defender Obey Mwerahari who limped off with an injury in the second half of the Harare Derby and was replaced by Jimmy Konono, his change for the 34 minutes will be treated as a substitution.
And should Dynamos want to maintain the disciplinary axe which fell on Mukamba, which saw the midfielder missing the Harare Derby on Sunday, then that will be counted as a second change for the team. Mukamba, who is still struggling to completely shed off his bad boy image despite his repeated appeals he has turned a new leaf, fell foul of the club’s technical staff and was ommitted from the squad. Last season, he missed the 3-3 Harare Derby in October after he was dropped from the team on the eve of the game because of his wayward behaviour. But all eyes are on Ntouba and how Dynamos and the PSL will deal with this one.
How they lined up
Dynamos: T. Mateyaunga, P. Makaha, O. Mushure, L. Zvasiya, M. Machazane, O. Mwerahari, T. Chipunza, C. Kapupurika, E. Mandiranga, D. Mukamba, C. Ntouba.
Subs: A. Sadiki, A. Reyners, V. Ndaba, C. Rusere, T. Macheke, P. Dube, K. Denhere.
Chapungu: T. Shumba, C. Kwaramba, R. Bota, N. Zabula, B. Mbavarira, L. Genti, I. Nyoni, M. Moenda, M. Mavuto, T. Chitora, R. Sibanda.
Subs: P. Marufu, N. Murisa, N. Papias, X. Ncube, B. Mugoni, C. Mativenga, R. Mazingi.