Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS technical director and goalkeepers’ coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu broke down yesterday as he struggled to come to terms with his suspension by the club on allegations of indiscipline.
Zulu received his suspension letter on Friday together with assistant coach Amini Soma-Phiri.
Addressing a Press Conference in Bulawayo yesterday, Zulu claimed he was being charged for upholding “professional values” within the team.
According to Zulu, strained relations between him and Soma-Phiri have been piling up since 2015 when they were appointed as caretaker coaches after the club parted ways with Bongani Mafu.
Zulu and Soma-Phiri are said to have had a heated argument that led to the two exchanging insults in front of players on their way from Mandava after the abandoned match against FC Platinum.
The final straw was the argument the two had on the bench when Highlanders embarrassingly lost 0-3 to Black Rhinos at Morris Depot.
In an attempt to clear his name, Zulu broke down as he addressed journalists in the city centre.
“It has hurt me so much; I don’t know how to put it. I’m so hurt. All the years I have spent trying build my character and somebody comes here and suspends me for indiscipline because I am trying to encourage professionalism in this organisation. Highlanders sent me to England in 1992 to go and learn about professionalism. I come back and I try to inculcate that and I am labelled as an indisciplined person because I want professionalism.
“I want to tell people that what you read (in the newspapers) about my suspension is wrong. I am being suspended for trying to be professional, for trying not to compromise professionalism. I have got people around the world who see me as a strict disciplinarian and a role model,” said Zulu as he shed tears.
He said sports personalities and company executives know what kind of a role model he is and are privy to his professionalism and passionate approach that he takes to his work.
The suspended goalkeepers’ trainer said among football personalities who he worked with are former AmaZulu president Delma Lupepe, former Highlanders coach Bobby Clark, ex-club chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede, Premier Soccer League chief Kennedy Ndebele and Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda who can all vouch for him that he is a strict disciplinarian.
“After the FC Platinum game, I asked them how many times one man should be allowed to behave this way. I charged at them and asked if they didn’t have the spine to discipline him. I am a senior member in that staff not only on age but I am the longest serving coach in Highlanders’ history and with what Highlanders invested in me, I can’t be seen compromising professionalism. As a life member of the club, that is unacceptable. People pay their money to watch Highlanders, they cannot watch while people want to turn this into a boozers’ club.
“My conscience does not allow me to keep quiet when I see something going wrong. If I am going to be fired so be it. I am happy to go with the right conscience. I want to be fired for being professional. I have held meetings here with the acting chairman (Modern Ngwenya) about this and he goes on to suspend me. All these years I have spent, nearly 40 years with Highlanders and this is how they acknowledge my contribution,” Zulu said.
“I am being charged for indiscipline. Is it indiscipline? Can I be suspended for contributing when I am sitting on the bench?”.
Zulu insists that his suspension was not due to indiscipline but because he was trying to rein in Soma-Phiri whom he felt was not being professional.