The Sunday Mail
Ntouba Epoupa Christian Joel now knows his way around town.
He now has an account with a local bank and can understand some of the Shona jokes at the training ground. His favourite dish remains rice and beef because his palate can still not navigate the simple pleasure provided by sadza.
The 23-year-old Cameroonian striker, whose debut for Dynamos has been highly anticipated in the blue half of Harare, is adjusting quite well and he is eagerly awaiting his first taste of local top flight football since his arrival in February.
The wait is finally over.
Ntouba will make his debut today when Dynamos clash against city rivals Caps United in the Uhuru Cup semifinal at the National Sports Stadium.
Dynamos have pulled all stops to have Ntouba’s papers ready and the time has come for the multitudes of DeMbare fans to watch the expatriate in action.
Ntouba’s international clearance arrived on Wednesday night and the following day his manager Gilbert Sengwe assisted him to open a bank account.
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League license has been processed and Ntouba is ready to show Zimbabweans what he is made of.
It’s a debut on a derby Sunday for Ntouba and all eyes will be on the Cameroonian striker. Will he live up to his billing?
DeMbare coach Lloyd Mutasa believes Ntouba will add much-needed firepower upfront.
“I can’t divulge much about him now but what I can assure the multitudes of Dynamos fans is that Ntouba is a worthy investment, the rest he will explain on the field of play on Sunday,” said Mutasa.
“It’s good that he now feels at home and now understands the culture of the club. He is aware of the demands that come with playing for this institution.”
Ntouba is currently staying in Warren Park with his manager Gilbert Sengwe.
“I used to accompany him to the team’s pick-up point in town but now Ntouba knows his way around and can find his way back home in Warren Park. He has a few problems with local food, especially sadza, but everything else is okay,” says Sengwe.
Dynamos are yet to win a competitive match this season, having lost 1-3 to Caps United in the ZNA Commanders Shield semi-finals before losing again to FC Platinum (0-1) in the league opener a fortnight ago. Last week, DeMbare blew a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 away to Triangle.
And Mutasa is a concerned man.
“Sometimes you learn the hard way … it was painful to lose that 2-0 lead at Triangle but two games are never the same. Sunday’s game is a new one and we have moved to rectify some of the problems we had. Concentration is key and we have been working on that aspect.
“We are facing a determined Caps United who have also done well in the CAF Champions League and have already won a cup (ZNA Commanders’ Charities Shield). But we are Dynamos. My players know how crucial this match is.”
DeMbare will miss the services of utility player Obey Mwerahari who has been excused to attend his father’s funeral. Dynamos players attended the funeral wake in Zengeza 2, Chitungwiza yesterday morning.
In the absence of Mwerahari, former Hwange defender Pakhamani Dube could be slotted in at right-back in a four-man defence with skipper Ocean Mushure, Lincoln Zvasiya and Elisha Muroiwa.