MONOMOTAPA have performed better in the 2009 African Champions League when they were least expected to.
But tomorrowâ€™s clash with Congolese champions Tout Puissant Mazembe give them another chance for one more giant-killing act, perhaps the most important in the campaign so far.
The Zimbabwean champions were blitzed 5-0 by Mazembe in Lubumbashi a fortnight ago in their heaviest defeat in Africaâ€™s premier club competition. The Mazembe players were promised hefty winning bonuses by wealthy club president Moises Katumbi Chapwe, and they really turned it on against the Zimbabweans with a dominant performance.
The defeat left Monoz anchored at the bottom of the Group B log on three points while Mazembe lead the group on six points. The group also has Nigerians Heartland, who are second with six points, while Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel are third.
Tomorrowâ€™s match against the Les Corbeaux (the Crows) will be followed by another home fixture against Heartland in two weeks time.
Coach Rodwell Dhlakama hopes his chargesâ€™ home record will motivate them tomorrow.
Monoz stunned pre-tournament favourites Etoile du Sahel 2-1 in their opening home match at Rufaro after Ivorians Asec Mimosas had also fallen by the wayside in the road to the mini-league phase.
â€œThe boys played very well against Etoile du Sahel and I expect them to improve from there,â€ Dhlakama said. â€œWith such kind of home performances, I am pretty confident the team can get a good result on Saturday.â€
Dhlakama also got a timely boost in his preparations after the club on Monday lifted the suspension of four players. Captain Mthulisi Maphosa, goalkeeper Godfrey Mangove, defender Lucky Simango and forward Daniel Zokoto had been suspended for leading a player boycott over unpaid bonuses.
Â â€œIt is good news for me,â€ said Dhlakama. â€œIts good for the club and the country as a whole that the boys are back in camp and training with the rest of the squad. Every coach wants to have all his best players going into a crucial match like this and I am happy that the management was able to sort out the issue.â€
Yesterday Monomotapa received a financial boost when Blend Valley, a cigarette manufacturing company, gave them US$50 000 to cover hosting costs.