The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
WHEN Highlanders assembled their squad for this season, the club was going through financial difficulties which saw Bosso not being able to entice the best players in the country.
Bosso, however, got a boost in September when Sakunda Holdings came to the rescue of the oldest football club in the land when they unveiled a sponsorship package for Highlanders and their rivals Dynamos.
The coming in of a sponsor changed targets for Highlanders and Bosso executive committee chairman, Johnfat Sibanda declared before the start of the season that they were gunning for the championship.
However, Mandla Mpofu, the Highlanders coach said the players they got were just good enough for Bosso to compete, but not to win the championship.
“Let’s be realistic, when we assembled this team, we assembled this team with much less in terms of resources so the players that we got were the players that we really wanted to get into the team to try and compete in the coming league.
Lucky enough, we managed to get Sakunda Holdings coming into the picture and obviously our objectives have changed and the team is now playing for the championship,’’ Mpofu said.
Mpofu is looking to manage the situation between now and when the transfer window opens, which will give him an opportunity to strengthen his squad.
“I might say we really need to make sure that between now and the window period in January we really need to grind as much results as we can and see what will happen in the January window where we really need to strengthen the team as much as possible, we will use that opportunity to make sure that we get maybe more quality players into the team so that we can go and compete for the league as much as possible,’’ Mpofu reckoned.
He believes that to gun for the title Bosso must be able to compete against the likes of FC Platinum and Ngezi Platinum on the transfer market.
“They (Highlanders players) are good enough I might say, but remember if we are really gunning for the championship, it means we have to go into the market and compete. If FC Platinum, if Ngezi say they want player X, and we want player X, it means we are competing, that’s what I am trying to say. It then means we are going to the market with the top teams that want the championship, so we will use that opportunity in January to make sure that we strengthen the team so that we really go there and compete as much as possible,’’ he said.
Highlanders did not get their 2021/22 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign off to a good start when they lost 2-0 to Black Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium last Saturday. Mpofu is mindful of the fact that they have to turn things around as they gear up to face Ngezi Platinum Stars at Barbourfields Stadium on Tuesday.
“We had a disappointing start, we are not happy with the result that we got against Black Rhinos in our first game, but I might say these things happen, this is football, we were really hurt, we were really disappointed, I know this is a big institution, no one will accept any other result than the positive result that is winning.
“We as the technical team and the players, we are the most disappointed people in that regard. We regrouped after that defeat and we have prepared for the Ngezi game with a lot of positives from the game that we played against Black Rhinos.
We really need to pick ourselves up and make sure that we go into the Ngezi game to get the maximum points that we want. We really want Barbourfields Stadium to be a fortress,’’ Mpofu said.
The Bosso coach has been away with the national team where he is one of Norman Mapeza’s assistants. Mpofu has managed to keep in touch with his Highlanders technical team in preparation for the fixture against Ngezi Platinum.
After Bosso’s losing start to the league, some Highlanders supporters have expressed their views that Mpofu is not the best man to take Bosso forward.
Mpofu responded by averring that Highlanders have not won the championship since 2006 and he was being crucified after just one league game.
“Between 2006 and today, how many coaches have come to Highlanders and failed to win the championship? And we’ve got one man you have given the opportunity and we have played one game, and somebody says he is not fit to coach Highlanders and he will not win the championship. That is unfair,’’ he said.
He feels it is unfair to write him off early into the season. The Highlanders coach stated that he will not respond to social media comments but instead direct all his energy on ensuring that Highlanders get positive results. — @Mdawini_29