26 August 2009

Zimbabwe: Malajila's Big Dream

Harare — CUTHBERT MALAJILA resumed training at Dynamos yesterday after spending a month on trials in Belgium and immediately declared that his mission was to win the Golden Boot and fire the Glamour Boys to league championship glory this season.

The 25-year-old hitman, who returned home on Monday, rejoined his DeMbare teammates at their morning training session at Prince Edward School in the capital yesterday.

Malajila trails Gunners' hotshot Norman Maroto in the race for the Golden Boot by three goals after the former Dynamos striker overtook him during his spell in Belgium.

DeMbare also lost pole position in the race for the league championship when they struggled for goals as Malajila tried to break into the Belgian top-flight league by securing a contract at Cercle Brugge. Ironically, it was Gunners, who are under the guidance of Moses Chunga, who took over as the championship leaders following a 4-1 demolition of Black Rhinos.

DeMbare were then held to a goalless draw by Eagles and now trail the Gunners by a point, with two games in hand, as the championship race enters the home stretch.

Initial reports from Belgium have indicated that Malajila failed to secure a contract despite being given two extra weeks to make an impression at Cercle Brugge. The Zimbabwe international striker was yesterday not willing to talk about his stay in Belgium and referred all questions pertaining to the trip to his manager, Musongelwa Ndlovu.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Ndlovu, who told The Herald last week that he was only likely to get the correct picture from the Belgians at the weekend, failed yesterday.

However, it appears that Malajila already knows that he will be spending the remainder of the season at Dynamos -- which is just the confirmation one needs to realise that the striker failed to make the grade in Belgium.

For if Malajila had passed the test, then he would probably not be talking about winning the Golden Boot and firing Dynamos to league championship glory this season.

The striker showed his delight at returning to the Glamour Boys again. "I am happy to be back at my team," he said after the morning training session. "I wouldn't say my absence affected the team, we didn't lose a league match and they even scored three goals in the last cup game.

"DeMbare have a lot of experienced players and even now that I am back, I will not be under any pressure to score in my first match. "But I now want to reclaim my position and once I get my scoring touch back, I want to catch up with Norman because I believe the advantage is still on my side because we have two games in hand.

"All I need is just to score one goal; it will be easy to score the other goals." The DeMbare hitman said his team just like any football side in the world sometimes hit a poor patch and this led to the Glamour Boys dropping points in the championship race.

"It was just a bad patch that the team was going through and it happens in football because there is always a lot of pressure that comes with chasing the title." Malajila won the Golden Boot with Chapungu in 2007 -- the year that Dynamos won their only league championship since the turn of the millennium.

Last year, playing for Highlanders, Malajila scored 16 league goals and came second to Golden Boot winner Evans Chikwaikwai. Malajila is confident of scoring more than 16 goals this season and, while he would be happy to win the Golden Boot, he believes winning the league championship was the bigger prize.

Dynamos will switch their focus back to the championship race when they travel to Mutare for a tie against Highway at Sakubva on Sunday.

And yesterday assistant coach Tonderayi Ndiraya said they were now looking forward to resuming their league championship campaign.

Leaders Gunners take on exciting Kiglon at Gwanzura on Sunday while CAPS United, who still have a mathematical chance of winning the championship, have a date against Highlanders in the biggest league game in the capital at Rufaro on the same day.

DeMbare have yet to lose a league match since Ndiraya and his boss, head coach Elvis Chiweshe, took over from David Mandigora. "We are still unbeaten in the league and we hope to continue from where we left," said Ndiraya.

"It is always difficult to play away from home, but we are confident because we haven't lost in the league," said Ndiraya. The young coach also spoke about the physical nature of their BancABC Sup8r quarter-final showdown against Gunners at Rufaro which DeMbare won 3-2.

Ndiraya said there was nothing sinister about the physical battle in that game or the bruising contests that left Benjamin Marere and David Shoko hospitalised. Shoko is unlikely to play again this season.

Some Dynamos fans had criticised the physical approach by Gunners, claiming that Chunga's players only wanted to inflict serious damage on their players to weaken their team ahead of tougher league championship battles.

Ndiraya, who was a victim of serious injuries during a playing career that was cut short by vicious tackles, disagreed with the fans.

"These were tackles which are found in a game of football and although they were nasty, they were not intentional and were fair tackles found in a game of football," said Ndiraya. "It's a blow to lose Benjie, he was really playing well in the last few matches and in Sunday's match he had started well and was probably going to score more goals.

"I am glad we have so much depth because we lost key players but replaced them with good players Merciful (Ncube) has always been there while Tawanda (Ushe) is just coming in but is not new in the Premiership as he played in Masvingo and is our junior player.

"But the senior players, Cuthbert and Phillip Marufu, are back and pushing the youngsters to the bench, but they will feature in some games as the season wears on," he said. Ndiraya said Malajila's return was a big boost and Marufu was likely to make the trip to Mutare while midfield dynamo Wonder Sithole was still out.

Sithole has been one of the outstanding performers in the DeMbare team this season. "We choose our team basing on performance, but usually there is a starting line-up and we have been consistent, starting with usually the same eight players with others varying with form or injuries.

"We will have to assess Malajila's performance and see if he will play because we have other strikers who can score as well, but we know he can do it."

While Ndiraya continues to speak to the media, the situation is different when it comes to Chiweshe, who snubs interviews with local journalists because he is unhappy with some of the stories that have been carried in the media.

The Herald initially wanted to speak to Chiweshe yesterday but just like on Sunday after his team's victory over Gunners the DeMbare head coach was not in the mood to talk, apparently because he took exception to a story that appeared to suggest his honeymoon with the fans was over.

On Sunday Dynamos were forced to make some changes to the starting line-up with Eddie Mashiri finally being given a first-team place.

Lloyd Hlahla also impressed, after being given a place in the starting line-up, and scored an excellent goal  after receiving a great pass from Mashiri which put DeMbare in the driving seat.

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