Grace Chingoma Sports Reporter—-
REIGNING Castle Lager Premiership Soccer Star of the Year Dennis Dauda blew a golden chance to pocket US0 000, in net earnings per year for two-and-a-half years, when he failed to make the grade at an Azerbaijani club. With an offer to sign a two-and-a-half-year contract on the table, Dauda came short of the big and tough defender that ambitious club Gabala wanted when he joined them for a pre-season training camp in Turkey this week.
ZPC Kariba would have pocketed a cool US5 000 in net earnings for the remainder of the six months of this season.
He would have then picked US0 000 in net earnings for the remaining two years of his contract and that, coupled with bonuses and other perks, would have earned him more than US million by the time that his contract ended.
That would have represented a huge leap forward in the career of a player who was playing Division One football on the domestic scene only 14 months ago and earning peanuts along the way.
Dauda has been in Europe, hoping to seal a big money move to Azerbaijan and joined Gabala in Turkey where they are having their mid-winter training camp.
However, the defender failed to impress new coach Roman Hryhorchuk from Ukraine.
The club, which finished third last season and played in the Uefa Europa League, losing in the first round, felt the defender was not at the level of the player they were looking for.
This followed an assessment that was made after Dauda featured in a friendly match for the club on Wednesday where his movements were closely monitored by the team’s technical department who would then decide whether he had made the grade or not based on what they saw in his performance in that match.
The Gabala technical team felt that Dauda wasn’t the tough tackling and no-nonsense defender that the team needed.
Even though the club felt that the 26-year-old player has room to improve, they felt that they were not the kind of club, given their ambitions to make a big impression in Europe, who would help him become a better player.
The club’s Sporting Director Tony Adams, an Arsenal and England legend, was part of the team that made the assessment and final decision on Dauda.
Firstly, his reading of one-on-one situations was questioned and on two occasions, when faced with an opponent, Dauda was exposed and the assessors felt they needed someone who would do better.
Dauda was also found wanting, according to the assessors, in the way that he dealt with corner kicks.
The club felt they needed a player who, when defending corners, would be technically aware of not only the opponents but also the positions of his teammates and go in and provide cover quickly as and when that was needed.
The recommendation from the assessors was that while Dauda was not a bad player and, with a helping hand of good coaches his talent could be developed, he wasn’t the kind of player that needed to start his European football journey at their club.
They said Dauda was likely to be helped if he first played in another league, outside Zimbabwe but in Africa, where his technical weaknesses would be sorted out, before he tries to plunge into the demanding leagues of European football.
The suggestion from the Dauda handlers is that they will try to get him to play for a team in South Africa before he can make another fresh bid to join a club in Europe.
“He has room to improve but he cannot start at this level, the competition is just too much and the level is just too high,” an assessment of the player read.
With the door closing on Dauda, another Zimbabwean defender Carlington Nyadombo might make it to Europe as his direct replacement at the Azerbaijani club.
Clubs in the Azerbaijan Premiership can have as many as nine foreign players.
At Gabala there are players from Senegal, Nigeria, Ukraine and Brazil.
The Azerbaijan Premiership has been attracting a lot of talent from around the world and a number of African players — 12 Cameroonians, four Ghanians, three Ivorians, four Egyptians, three from Congo Brazaville, eight Senegalese, two Tunisians, two from Mali, two from Kenya, 33 Nigerians, nine from Sierra Leone, four from Burkina Faso, two from Togo, nine from Guinea, a Morrocan, a Congolese and one from Cape Verde — play in that league.