By Ricky Zililo
BULAWAYO giants Highlanders FC on Thursday received a major boost after completing a season-loan deal with Bantu Rovers FC for the trio Obadiah Tarumbwa, Teenage Hadebe and Nqobizitha Masuku.
The arrival of the trio at Highlanders coincided with that of highly rated leftback Zimiseleni Moyo who won the 2014 Zambian Premiership title with Zesco United.
Although the dreadlocked player impressed Bosso coach Bongani Mafu, he has not been taken on board and is only training with the team to keep fit.
Speaking to Chronicle Sport, Mafu described the arrival of Tarumbwa, Hadebe and Masuku as “a good selection headache” that any coach needs.
The Highlanders gaffer has been on the market for an experienced striker, a central defender and a right back but Bantu Rovers spiced up the deal to loan Tarumbwa and Young Warriors’ defender Teenage Hadebe by including Masuku.
In the build up to the New Year, Bosso were monitoring Masuku’s movements and even wrote to Bantu Rovers seeking his services.
“Moyo (Zimiseleni) is an exciting player who can give us cover for Honest Moyo and Julius Daudi but there is no deal. He asked to train with the club and we gave him our blessings,” Mafu said.
“I think having these players (Tarumbwa, Masuku and Hadebe) is the best start which gives us a good selection headache due to their quality that any coach will need. They are good players who I believe are going to add value to the club”.
Before the acquisition of Bantu Rovers’ trio, Mafu had indicated that he needed four players to beef up his squad. He is now on the lookout for a rightback, a position that has been problematic at Bosso since the departure of Noel Kaseke a decade ago.
Hadebe’s arrival marks the end of former skipper Innocent Mapuranga’s stay at Bosso.
The former Bantu Rovers player will fight for a starting place with Douglas Sibanda who he partnered in central defence when the national Under-23’s lost 2-1 away to Morocco last year, Erick Mudzingwa and Felix Chindungwe.
Masuku’s midfield competitors are Tendai Ngulube, King Nadolo, Welcome Ndiweni, Mthulisi Maphosa, Simon Munawa and Edmore Muzanenhamo.
Highlanders have been frantically hunting for a seasoned striker to add firepower to their attack and the capture of Tarumbwa should be sweet music to the ears of their supporters.
Tarumbwa, who has had playing stints in Belgium, Cyprus, Kenya and South Africa, possesses the experience that the Bosso coach needs and will compete for a place with Ozias Zibande, Gabriel Nyoni and new signing Thomas Chideu.
Meanwhile, Highlanders will get a percentage from the sale of any of Bantu Rovers’ three players should they move during the season, club chief executive Ndumiso Gumede, said.
“We’ve agreed terms with Bantu Rovers and the players have been released to us for a year. Unfortunately I can’t divulge the financial details of the deal because that is something confidential.
“The Luveve Big XI FC fiasco won’t happen as we have attached serious value to our brand and something which Bantu Rovers and the players understood. This means that should the players move during the season, the club won’t lose this time around,” Gumede said.
There were fears that Highlanders could be used to market Bantu Rovers’ players and when they move the club would be left counting their losses like they did when Peter “Rio” Moyo and Milton Ncube left during last year’s mid-season window.
Moyo went to Mpumalanga Black Aces while Ncube joined Ajax Cape Town with Luveve Big XI getting all the transfer money.
Bantu Rovers’ general manager Wilbert Sibanda declined to comment on the details of the deal saying, “We have cleared our players to go and play football for Highlanders. Should they move during their stay at Bosso, we will take it from there.” The Chronicle