Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS’ chairman Peter Dube is confident that his club will be more competitive in the 2016 season despite their failure to sign big name players during the present transfer window.
The Bulawayo giants, who last won the league championship in 2006, have instead promoted three players, Prince Banda, Adrian Sila and Charlot Siyalonga, from their junior ranks into the first team.
However, they lost Valentine Ndaba to rivals Dynamos and also failed to retain the services of striker Obidiah Tarumbwa, defender Teenage Hadebe and midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku who were on loan from Zifa Southern Region Division One side Bantu Rovers.
Tarumbwa has since moved to Chicken Inn and Masuku to FC Platinum, while Hadebe’s nagging injury has delayed finalisation of his intended move to the Gamecocks.
Veteran midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa’s contract was not renewed and he is one of the senior players presently trying their luck at PSL new boys Bulawayo City.
Crucially though, Bosso managed to retain the services of defenders Erick Mudzingwa and Felix Chindungwe, as well as goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, whose contracts had run out.
Expectations had been high that the Bulawayo giants were going to bolster their squad with acquisitions of seasoned players in a bid to compete for the title.
Responding to questions about the team’s preparations for the 2016 season after the club’s elections that brought in Modern Ngwenya as the new vice-chairman and retained Donald Ndebele as treasurer on Sunday, Dube said Bosso cannot afford to sign big name players at the moment.
“We haven’t brought in big names for obvious reasons. We can’t afford because the people we compete with are better resourced than us,” said Dube.
“But we say the people that follow and support the club must actually drive us to realise that somehow we should work hard and remain a very competitive entity. And we’re going to do exactly that. If you look, the much talked about junior policy couldn’t have been better than what it is now gauging by the results we attained last season. We even brought in a team to Division One where we expect to actually start reaping benefits in terms of signing players who’ll be promoted into the first team.”
Dube said following their strong finish in the 2015 season which saw them ending sixth in the league and winning the Easycall Cup, everyone at the club is looking forward to the team continuing from where they left off.
He said despite failing to win the league championship in the last decade, they remained proud that Highlanders has always been a competitive side.
“As Highlanders, to some extent we’re glad that we’ve stayed there. We’ve won a couple of cups. Fine, the league itself has eluded us, but I think we’ve remained competitive under the circumstances. It’s that bit of stability that we pride ourselves in under these difficult circumstances, but look we still remain with a brand that we can pride ourselves in,” said Dube.
Highlanders are still awaiting the arrival of Dutch coach Erol Akbay, who is expected to join the squad as soon as his work permit is issued. The first team is performing its drills under assistant coach Amini Soma-Phiri and goalkeepers’ coach, veteran Cosmas Zulu.