Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER watching Highlanders FC’s dismal performance during their 0-3 defeat by Harare City FC in the Chibuku Super Cup semi-finals on Sunday, ex-national team players Joel Luphahla and Desmond Maringwa said Bosso have to engage a psychologist.
Bosso have gone for five games without a win, managing a goalless draw with Buffaloes last month followed by three defeats to Harare City, ZPC Kariba and Caps United in the league. On Sunday Harare City worsened the situation for Bosso when they booted them out of the Chibuku Super Cup.
In the last five encounters, Highlanders have conceded 11 goals and only managed to score once during the same period.
Against Harare City the Bulawayo giants only put a fight in the opening 23 minutes before running out of steam. The body language of Bosso players showed that they have lost hope this season.
“It hurts so much when you see the team that one dearly loves crumble at this stage of the season. The players’ attitude is far from convincing and as a former player who won championships with Highlanders I can’t help but speculate on what the club can do to save the season. I think what these boys need is counselling. A psychologist will do for them because they seem to have lost all hope. They look as if they are physically and emotionally drained.
They are even failing to string more than five passes, this is sad,” said Luphahla.
He said there was urgent need to rekindle hope and instil confidence in the players.
Luphahla, better known as “Dubai,” was part of Highlanders’ squad that won successive league titles at the beginning of the millennium before moving to Europe where he plied his trade in Cyprus before settling in South Africa.
The former national team winger challenged the players to rise from their slumber and restore “Highlanders’ pride.”
“Playing for a big club like Highlanders comes with great expectations. You have to understand the history of the club and what it means to ordinary members. Bosso is a way of life for most people and they are proud of the club. It doesn’t augur well when the team is not winning.
“At least play to save Highlanders’ pride. They must at least try to show that they are fighters instead of just giving up easily like they are doing,” he said.
Highlanders, fourth on the table with 39 points from 25 games, 10 points behind defending champions Dynamos, are out of the title race and should be challenging for a top four finish.
Looking at their recent performances, Bosso are sliding down and if they fail to wake up from their slumber they will sink deeper and find themselves fighting for a top-eight finish.
If they manage to make it to a top four finish with FC Platinum, Hwange and Chicken Inn heavily breathing on their back, Highlanders will get a chance to defend their Mbada Diamonds Cup.
“Highlanders have all to play for but their players’ body language is far from convincing. They look tired and it’s as if they are praying for the season to end early. There is no fighting spirit that we used to see in the yesteryear Highlanders. I think shouting at these boys at this stage won’t make them improve rather there is a need to have a psychologist or even the club’s leadership talking to the players to find out what is affecting the boys without frightening them,” Maringwa said.
With the season coming to an end soon, the ex-DeMbare and national team midfielder said players were as good as their last performance.
“What the players also have to realise is that the season is coming to an end and clubs are interested in players that have been consistent performers.
These remaining games also have a bearing on players’ next move so if they don’t raise their game, they might find themselves clubless. A player is as good as his last game,” said Maringwa.
Luphahla and Maringwa also noted with concern that failure to integrate junior players from their ranks could be having a bearing on their performance.
“The truth of the matter is that big clubs like Highlanders and Dynamos can’t survive without their junior products in their squads. If you look at the composition of Highlanders squad, they have turned to cheque-book recruitment instead of grooming juniors. They have ignored a number of their promising juniors who have been taken by other clubs and now with their aged players, it becomes difficult to keep that club culture in the squad,” said Maringwa.