Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS are happy with their rebuilding process and systems put in place to offset the club’s huge debt.
Highlanders’ chairman Kenneth Mhlophe threw his support behind head coach, Madinda Ndlovu, who is leading the rebuilding exercise meant to introduce Bosso’s junior products into the senior team.
Mhlophe said the “ECD” project has slowly brought back the flair that the club was once associated with.
And the fans have responded by descending on Barbourfields Stadium in their thousands regardless of the opponents.
“We are half way through, but I would say so far we have recorded a lot of positives, but our end of year audit will reveal what we have achieved. If you look at our numbers in terms of going to the stadium, we have caught up with what we did last year, which means there’s something that we are doing right. Though I don’t have the actual figures, the good work done by the technical team and the players has attracted fans to back to the stadium. Traditionally you would know that we get a lot of numbers when we are challenging for the championship, but even as we rebuild, we are still attracting huge numbers,” said Mhlophe.
“I think what has drawn the fans to the stadium is our decision to return to the Highlanders’ way of giving youngsters a chance and bringing in players that can enhance our vision,” he said.
Among the young players that have made appearances during Highlanders’ rebuilding process are central defenders Irvine Moyo and Andrew Mbeba, who were promoted from the development squad Bosso 90, midfielder Denzel Khumalo and left-back Mbongeni Ndlovu, who is giving skipper Honest Moyo a tough time holding down a starting place.
The Bosso boss said from the squad of 30 players, 18 were under 23 years of age, one is 24-years-old, three are 25 and eight are above 25 years.
“The future looks good and these players are here for some time. Signing the bulk of these youngsters has also saved us money because we don’t bite more than we can chew. We can’t afford to buy and for that reason our production line, which is the junior system, has to be functional. Players identified from the junior ranks don’t cost us an arm and a leg. With the exposure that these players are getting, we can challenge for something once they’ve gained the necessary experience.
“Next year we start the season with a good base of players who understand what we are trying to achieve in terms of technical team building, the playing side and we do that with a lot of contractual stability so you don’t walk at the end of the year and ask how many contracts are expiring. We have looked at this and said, ‘how do we plan so that we always try and extend contracts before they expire’,” said Mhlophe.
Midfielders Brian Banda and Adrian Silla are some of the regular players that have already extended their contracts with Bosso.
Mhlophe praised the Highlanders’ fans that have been travelling for away games by reviving the colourful road shows. He also praised the supporters for their good behaviour at the stadium.
“We said we want to pay less in terms of crowd trouble and we’ve just gone past the half way and we haven’t gone to the PSL for hearings. Avoiding fines and hearings saves us money. Our fans understand our plea and this good behaviour means we are walking together with the fans,” said Mhlophe.
Highlanders will be hoping to cap their season with a good performance in the Chibuku Super Cup.
“As chairman, my desire is to lead a winning institution and winning silverware is my wish. We don’t have to pressure the boys. We want to stick to our goals and vision of creating a strong foundation for the team. The time will come when these boys will graduate from ECD and start winning. All this requires patience,” Mhlophe said. — @ZililoR