By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Bulawayo giants Highlanders ended weeks of speculation over the identity of Dutchman Erol Akbay’s replacement when they confirmed club legend Madinda Ndlovu as head coach on a three-year contract.
The legendary Ndlovu, who is no stranger to the Bosso dressing room having previously coached them, will be assisted by former Bulawayo City mentor Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu.
Vezigama Dlodlo keeps his position as first team welfare manager, while a goalkeepers coach is yet to be named.
But it is the return of former Zimbabwe winger Ndlovu that helps sets in motion Bosso’s preparations for the 2018 season.
After successive years of indifferent performances, pressure has been building up on Highlanders to live up to their reputation and stage a strong challenge for the championship, if not win the crown.
Ndlovu is no stranger to winning championships. He won three back-to-back league titles in Botswana with Mochudi Centre Chiefs in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
The former Warriors coach was also a championship winner with Township Rollers in the 2013-14 Botswana term.
He then left Rollers to join Orapa United and led them to the 2016 Mascom Top 8 triumph.
However, the league title has continued to elude Ndlovu on the local scene.
Although Bosso called off their weekly press conference where Ndlovu was expected to be unveiled yesterday, chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube released a statement that also named the club’s junior coaches and managers.
Melusi “Mabaleka” Sibanda remains the developmental side coach and will be assisted by Gift Lunga Jr, who also remains the Under-18 head coach.
Ex-Highlanders midfielder Sizabantu Khoza will take charge of the Under-16 side, while the Under-14 team will be coached by Daniel Ngwenya.
Smart Moyo is the juniors’ manager, while Marko Dube is the developmental side manager.
There were no changes though to the medical department which will be headed by Hillary Tshuma while the long-serving Loyal Nyika remains the physiotherapist.
“The technical manager and his staff have commenced the process of player selection. The list of the 2018 senior squad will be announced in due course,” read Nhlanhla Dube’s statement.
The goalkeepers’ coach was not named amid revelations that a third force wants to influence the process despite Ndlovu having settled for Tembo Chuma, who has had stints with the club before and was attached to How Mine last season.
Another Highlanders legend, Peter Nkomo was in charge of the goalkeeping department in the second half of the season last year following the demotion of Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu to the juniors. Nkomo’s contract expired on December 31, 2017.
“Ndlovu named his goalkeepers’ coach, but it looks like someone not directly involved with the day-to-day running of the club is still influencing or trying to influence matters, hence the decision not to announce the goalkeepers’ coach.
But from the look of things, the chap is fighting a losing battle, as confirmation of Chuma is imminent,” said a club source. The Herald