By Tadious Manyepo
Ngezi Platinum Stars have refuted reports that they made underhand advances to sign Dynamos striker Joel Christian Epoupa before the Cameroonian player and his team sensationally terminated their marriage early this year.
It was widely believed that Ngezi Platinum made inquiries on the player as they wanted to assemble a squad good enough to challenge for the top-flight honours.
Reports suggested that the Mhondoro team’s capture of Ghanaian striker Stephen Owusu was done after the realisation that it was no longer possible for them to sign Epoupa given the furore surrounding the whole saga.
But Ngezi Platinum Stars yesterday vehemently denied any involvement in the whole drama.
“At no time has Ngezi Platinum Stars FC engaged Joel Christian Epoupa as part of the player acquisition process before, during and after his tenure with Dynamos and neither has Epoupa received any payment from the team,” said Nyasha Kadenge, the club’s chief executive.
Epoupa joined the Glamour Boys in 2017 and had a great debut season, top-scoring for the team which finished as runners-up to FC Platinum.
But the big striker refused to play for the team last season demanding he be paid the $12 000 the club owed him in sign-on fee and other allowances before he could kick a ball.
While Dynamos showed concern over their most-prized asset’s demands, Epoupa shifted the goalposts and suddenly started to demand the dues in hard United States currency despite his contract stating otherwise.
DeMbare’s principal sponsors, NetOne, even tried to intervene to resolve the impasse but Epoupa and his agent Gilbert Sengwe couldn’t budge.
It was at this point that Dynamos started smelling a rat, with whispers from the dip suggesting the striker had been offered a lucrative deal by an unnamed Premiership club.
There were reports that Epoupa had been sweet-talked by the then Ngezi Platinum coach Tonderai Ndiraya to join the Mhondoro-based miners.
In any case, the former Dynamos star had previously plucked Walter Mukanga, Tichaona Chipunza, Godknows Murwira and Kenneth Bulaji from the same team on previous instances.
And after the Dynamos-Epoupa fall-out spilled to FIFA, who then ruled that DeMbare should pay the Cameroonian in excess of $16 000 in hard currency, the team’s secretary general Webster Chikengezha appeared to be pointing fingers on an unnamed Premiership team which had swayed Epoupa’s attention.
Dynamos were given 30 days to pay Epoupa while they were also extended a 10-day period to lodge an appeal after the ruling was handed late last month.
The Harare giants appealed the ruling and they are still awaiting the world football mother-body’s response.
Marechera painted a gloomy picture of the Glamour Boys whom he said will do everything to try and honour what FIFA would have said but they will find it difficult to raise the required money in hard currency.
Marechera didn’t name the club he accused of “swaying Epoupa’s attention” from Dynamos only to withdraw their advances when they realised the relationship between the player and his team had turned nasty. The Herald