Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS FC begin their 2019 programme tomorrow with a two-day “targeted training exercise” aimed at assessing players who were identified during the 2018 season.
Players identified by the technical team during the 2018 season will train with Highlanders’ development side, Bosso 90 which competes in the Southern Region Division One Soccer League.
Nhlanhla Dube, the Highlanders chief executive officer, said the club has surpassed a stage where they hold open trials and revealed that players that will be identified from the targeted training programme will join the senior team for the pre-season training.
The senior team’s preseason will start on January 20, with all the players going through medical tests before the squad goes for a week-long training camp at a secluded venue.
“Our 2019 programme is in motion and we will have a targeted selection process at the weekend. We’re bringing in a few players that will train with our Division One side in the target identification process. Remember there are few areas we need to beef up. There are players that have been identified by the technical team who they need to look at in a game kind of training environment. There are a lot of issues that the coaches look at, movement, fit into the target play, maybe its pace, there are things that they look at in a game situation or structured environment.
“Most of the players are coming from our Division One, one or two players coming from outside our team. Anyone coming in from outside should be fitting a certain criteria like age, no one coming in should be above 23 years because the philosophy is we have to go young for the football we play and it’s difficult to sell older players,” said Dube.
Last year Bosso held a similar exercise, leading to Madinda Ndlovu and his technical team settling for McClive Phiri who went on to be a vital cog for Highlanders with some sublime displays as well as attacking midfielder Nigel Makumbe.
Highlanders are almost done with their Premiership squad signings, having secured the backbone of the team.
Bosso have managed to tie down seasoned goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, brought on board central midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku as well as forwards Prince Dube and Bukhosi Sibanda.
Other members deemed to be key figures of the squad include Phiri, central defence pair of Vincent Moyo and national Under-20 skipper Andrew Mbeba, left back Mbongeni Ndlovu, midfielders Adrian Silla, Ben Musaka as well as forward Tinashe Makanda.
Highlanders are hoping to close deals with striker Newman Sianchali who is expected in Bulawayo from his Binga home today, central defender Tendai Ndlovu who was reportedly on vacation in South Africa as well as skipper Honest Moyo.