Defiant Dhlakama Stays Calm

“I’M feeling composed, there is no cause for alarm.”


These were Rodwell Dhlakama’s words on Tuesday as Zimbabwean champions Monomotapa were making their last touches for a make-or-break match against Etoile du Sahel in Tunisia tomorrow.
But surely, there is cause for concern and Dhlakama has all the reasons to be worried. Because the challenge facing him appears insurmountable. The 2-0 loss at home to TP Mazembe a fortnight ago left his team at the bottom of the four-team MTN CAF African Champions League group B log standings and needing the remaining maximum six points. Anything short of that and Monoz will wave goodbye to the competition in which they initially promised a lot but have delivered very little.
Dhlakama not only needs to win his remaining two matches but also do it very convincingly if his team still harbours any ambitions of qualifying for the semis. At the same time, Monoz will be praying Heartland of Nigeria lose their  remaining matches — an unlikely prospect.
A Monoz defeat coupled by a draw for Heartland against TP Mazembe on Sunday means Dhlakama’s boys are out of the Champions League.
However, Dhlakama is full of confidence and still fancies his team to make it to the semis even if reality suggests otherwise.
“It won’t be easy but we will do our best to get the three points,” said. “We still have a chance. We will fight until it is mathematically impossible for us to qualify. We still need to pick ourselves up, its still in our hands.”
Although Monoz’s away record in this competition is poor, Zimbabwean teams have fared well in the past against the Tunisians and that might boost their confidence going into the match.
Last year, Dynamos beat Etoile du Sahel home and away to progress to the semis.
Monoz also stunned the Tunisians 2-1 in the reverse fixture at Rufaro earlier in the campaign.
But Dhlakama’s boys cannot make the mistake of seeking solace in history.
Etoile du Sahel go into the match buoyed by their Tunisian league win against Es Hamman Sousse last week.
They hammered Es Hamman Sousse 5-1 and their star man, Ahmed Akaichi, scored four times in that match.

 

Henry Mhara