Monos’ biggest hurdle

MONOMOTAPA coach Rodwell Dhlakama says his team’s crushing PSL defeat at the hands of Hwange last weekend could jerk his side out of its slumber in time for Sunday’s crucial African Champions League tie against South African side Ajax Cape Town.

The Zimbabwean champions were put to the sword by premiership returnees Hwange, losing 4-0 — hardly the confidence booster they needed ahead of Sunday’s match at Rufaro Stadium.

Monomotapa trail Ajax 3-2 from the first leg of the first round played in Paarl three weeks ago.

“Losing like that was a wake up call to everyone in the team,” Dhlakama said. “Instead of looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves, we should correct our mistakes and prepare for the forthcoming game in a positive frame of mind.

“A soccer game is an event and not a process, so each game must be taken as it comes. Each game carries a different approach.”

Dhlakama said the team was in a better position to face Ajax, the “Urban Warriors”, unlike in the first leg when they knew very little about their opponents.

Sunday’s game could well define Monomotapa’s season and future. For a small team, they relied on hard work, discipline and unity of purpose to win the Zimbabwe premiership last season.

With news of internal squabbling in their camp leading to Sunday, an exit from the Champions League will leave them with little motivation and could easily cause the disintegration of a promising team — like many before them.

Meanwhile, South African soccer website KickOff.com reports that Ajax have received a major boost ahead of their trip to Harare following the full recovery from injury of striker Sifiso Vilakazi.

The former Free State Stars striker, who has been troubled by a knee injury since February, says he has fully recovered and hopes to make the starting line-up when the Urban Warriors take on Monos.

“Everything is now okay. I am 100% fit and am hoping to play,” Vilakazi, who missed the first leg as a result of the setback, told the website Thursday.

Vilakazi sustained the injury during a 1-0 loss against Golden Arrows. The 29-year-old was involved in a nasty clash that also sidelined Arrows’ keeper Helton da Rocha.

While Vilakazi emerged with the knee injury, De Rocha came off second best as he lost five teeth, one of which was removed from the knee of the Ajax forward.

Vilakazi last week aggravated the injury when, despite not being fully fit, he played as a second-half substitute in a Nedbank Cup victory over Nathi Lions.

 His return is a boost to the Urban Warriors who have struggled for goals in recent games.

On Sunday, they face an uphill task against Monomotapa after letting in two first leg goals, but Vilakazi remains confident, promising “we will do our best”.

The Capetonians are expected in Harare Friday.

BY KUDZAYI TIGERE

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