Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
ANOTHER foreign coach will replace FC Platinum bound Hendrik Pieter de Jongh as Highlanders’ coach, according to club sources.
De Jongh officially notified Highlanders at the beginning of the week that he will not renew his contract when it expires on December 31 despite being offered an improved deal.
Sources said negotiations with the unnamed foreign coach were underway and they also said the club is keen to add Bulawayo Chiefs coach Thulani Sibanda to its technical staff.
“Talks with a foreign coach are in progress and look promising. The announcement of the coach is likely to be made just after New Year in time for a pre-season training camp. The reason the club has decided to bring in a foreign coach is because it wants someone that will not be sucked into the club’s politics,” said the source.
“They are also considering Thulani Sibanda, although some feel he is young to lead Highlanders. There are others who believe Sibanda will add value to the technical team because of his sports science background.”
In his Christmas message to Bosso supporters, club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe said everything is “under control” and they are not panicking.
“Of course, the news that the coach was leaving a few days before Christmas could have brought some damper, but we are Highlanders, we move on. We had an exciting end to the season and I think winning the Chibuku Super Cup was a perfect Christmas present to our loyal fans,” said Mhlophe.
“We want to assure our partners, members and supporters that we are working around the clock to get a substantive coach. We’re not under any pressure because we already have a full complement coaching team and we have no doubt that Mandla Mpofu and Bekithemba Ndlovu are capable of holding fort while the search for a new coach continues. The two have in the past showed their capabilities and if we’re to bring De Jongh’s replacement that will be done after New Year,” he said.
Sibanda is on record saying he is ready to leave Chiefs should he find a better offer. He staged a great escape for Chiefs, who fought relegation for the better part of the season.
Chiefs had opened their 2019 campaign with a heavy 0-5 defeat to Chapungu, forcing Chiefs’ director Lovemore Sibanda to recall Thulani, who had quit the club two weeks before the start of the season after being demoted for Joseph Sibindi.
“A coach is like a chameleon. If it turns green you go green, if it turns red you go red. I am not permanent at Chiefs. I might have been at Chiefs for a very long time, but I am not permanently rooted to Chiefs. I am open to any move. If an offer comes, I will definitely look at the options. If it’s a better offer I leave, that is a fact,” Sibanda said after Chiefs beat Highlanders 1-0 to escape relegation. — @ZililoR.