By Tadious Manyepo
Cameroonian forward Joel Christian Epoupa Ntouba is ready to pack his bags and return home if the Glamour Boys fail to honour their contractual obligations in the coming few days.
Although the gunslinger has been training, since he recovered from an ankle injury in February, he refused to travel with the team to Bulawayo where Tawanda Macheke led the line in Dynamos’ 0-1 loss to Chicken Inn in their season-opener last Saturday.
And just when the team’s faithful have been pinning hopes on the Cameroonian’s return for Sunday’s match against Shabanie at Rufaro, it has emerged Epoupa has bluntly told his paymasters he would leave the club in the next few days if they do not give him his outstanding dues.
Epoupa is owed in excess of $16 000 in allowances and signing-on fees from last season and has vowed not to play for DeMbare until the team clears the arrears.
He signed a two-year contract with the Glamour Boys at the beginning of last season and he is tied to the former champions until the end of this year.
Dynamos on Monday wrote to Epoupa’s manager, Gilbert Sengwe, proposing a payment plan which the latter, “under pressure from the player” refused to entertain.
Sengwe is between a rock and a hard surface as he is receiving phone calls from Epoupa’s parents on a daily basis who are demanding that the striker return home as he has not been sending anything to support his family.
DeMbare are trying hard to convince the striker who has vowed not to wear the blue jersey unless something concrete is tabled.
Sengwe confirmed receiving the letter from Dynamos yesterday.
“Yes, Dynamos wrote a letter to us proposing that we have a payment plan. We have since replied them.
“The problem is we have been writing these letters and receiving replies from Dynamos but at the end of it all, nothing concrete has come out.
“The player is not happy at all and his mind is no longer focused on his game since he cannot provide for his family.
“He is married with one child and his wife looks up to him. His parents are always calling me demanding that the striker return home as he is not supporting his family the way they would have expected.
“His wife has since stopped going to a tertiary institution as the striker has not been sending enough money for his family.
“I have to force the player to always go to training so that he shows the club his commitment to play for them.
“He has been doing that but he is now showing signs of fizzling out. He has since told me that if nothing comes out, he will be ready to leave the club and return home. He is depressed,” he said.
Sengwe said what pains him the most is the fact that he invested a lot of effort to convince the striker to settle for Dynamos even after he had been offered a contract by an unnamed Belarus lower division club.
“Epoupa would have gone to play in Belarus as there was a club which had shown interest in signing him.
“I had to stand my ground as I told him that Dynamos is a brand and one of the biggest clubs in Southern Africa so he stood a good chance of being noticed by competitive European teams.
“He decided to come and each time he asks me about the money, he keeps on reminding me that you are the one who cornered me to sign.
“The player is still willing to play for Dynamos as shown by his commitment in training but then he has been frank enough to say he will not play unless he is paid. He has a family to raise so it pains him,” said Sengwe.
Dynamos president Kenny Mubaiwa said his club had committed to honour the contractual obligations to ensure that the striker returns to action.
“We have agreed a payment plan with the player’s handlers and I am sure he will be back in action this weekend in our game against Shabanie,” he said.
The stand-off between the team and Epoupa has reportedly seen other Cameroonian players who had shown interest in playing for the Glamour Boys putting their moves on hold.