Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
NEW Highlanders’ head coach Baltemar Brito’s romance with the club is less than a month old, but the Brazilian-born gaffer is already overwhelmed with the love he has received from the club and its supporters.
Brito will be in charge of his first assignment in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against army side Black Rhinos at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
All eyes will be on Brito, as he looks to turn around Bosso’s fortunes on the field of play.
He will be in front of passionate Highlanders’ fans at Barbourfields and is full of gratitude for how the fans have welcomed him to Bulawayo.
While the well-travelled coach acknowledges that stadium facilities in the country are not up to the expected international standards, he says that will not destruct him from doing his job, and he and his assistant Joao Martins Leao Torres have chosen to turn a blind eye on the limitations posed by coaching in an African country, preferring to focus on awakening the giant in Highlanders.
“We are happy to be in Zimbabwe. The country does not have facilities like other countries I have coached before, but despite the limitations, I found people that are very kind and welcoming,” said Brito.
“The people are lovely.
The willingness from the board and players is more important than a good field to train on.
From the first day we arrived, people from this great city of Bulawayo were full of love for us.
We are loving being here a lot.
In the streets people stop us to take selfies and we are honoured.
We are loving the food and the people.”
He said his main target during the two-week mid-season break had given him an opportunity to build the Highlanders identity.
“If the players show the attitude they have displayed at training, I think we will be content with finishing the rest of the season with this squad.
We need to watch the boys in game situations before we can think of getting other players.
“During the break, we tried to build the identity of the team that the fans will go out to the stadium to watch and appreciate.
We know the process is not a two-week process, but we are already in that process of bringing that identity.
Our feeling is that we are on the right path.
Also, some players that were injured have recovered.
We have a clean bill of health for the next game.”
Brito called on fans to come in their numbers for Sunday’s tie.
“I invite the fans to come in their numbers to watch the game.
They are the 12th player and have a role to play in our mission to awaken the giant.
The fans can expect a team that wants to play well; a team that is showing the hunger to win from the first minute.
The fans will like the way the team will play and the personality that will be shown by the players,” Brito said.
Matchday 18 fixtures
Today: Herentals vs Harare City (National Sports Stadium)
Saturday: Cranborne Bullets vs Chicken Inn (Sakubva), Bulawayo City vs Ngezi Platinum (Barbourfields), Yadah vs Dynamos (National Sports Stadium)
Sunday: Tenax vs FC Platinum (Sakubva), Caps United vs ZPC Kariba (National Sports Stadium), Highlanders vs Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), WhaWha vs Manica Diamonds (Ascot), Triangle vs Bulawayo Chiefs (Gibbo)