By Ricky Zililo
BULAWAYO – Highlanders FC have submitted a list of 29 players for registration with the Premier Soccer League of whom 21 have signed contracts.
Although club officials could not be drawn into revealing names of contracted players, we have it on good authority that new signings Tendai Ngulube and Thomas Chideu are part of the 21 which is mostly made up of last season’s group.
Club captain and goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, returnee from Shabanie Mine Douglas Sibanda, utility player Felix Chindungwe, Bruce Kangwa, striker Ozias Zibande, Rahman Kutsanzira, Godknows Makaruse, Honest Moyo, Mthulisi Maphosa, Simon Munawa and King Nadolo are part of the contracted players.
Rightback Lewis “Rambo” Ncube has a running contract with the club up to the end of 2016, Welcome Ndiweni and vice-captain Erick Mudzingwa are included on the list of 21 players.
Details of the eight players that the club is rounding contract negotiations with will be availed today.
Speaking after the club’s meeting last night, Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede said they are tying up loose ends with a few players that joined the club from other clubs.
“The coaches brought their list, we discussed it and we’re wrapping up some paperwork with some of the boys. We’ve a squad and 21 out of the 29 names that we submitted to the PSL have already penned deals with us. The remaining eight it’s mostly players that joined us from other teams,” said Gumede.
Highlanders got striker Obadiah Tarumbwa, midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku and defender Teenage Hadebe on a season’s loan from Bantu Rovers last week among the eight that are concluding their deals.
Leftback Julius Daudi is waiting for his reverse international transfer clearance from Namibia where he was playing for Windhoek’s FNB XI but his name is on the 29-member list alongside Edmore “Digo” Muzanenhamo and striker Ashton Mhlanga.
Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu warned his players to guard against complacency saying they have to continue working hard as there is still time to make changes to the list submitted with the PSL.
“Being in the list that we’ve submitted to the PSL doesn’t mean that one should rest on their laurels. There’s still time to make adjustments should there be a need. I’ve been emphasizing on the need to keep on working hard and it’s only through hard work that one will continue being part of this great institution,” Mafu said.
The Bosso gaffer said he is working on getting loan attachments for the players that didn’t make the cut so that they get game time elsewhere.
“We want to loan our players to other teams with the intention of using them in future. If it were up to me, I would’ve kept them but there are rules and regulations that govern the number of players in a squad and as such we’ve to be fair and let the boys go and play elsewhere. One day they will return to Highlanders and add value,” said Mafu.
Meanwhile, Highlanders leave on Friday for a four-day team building exercise in Victoria Falls which they will also use to meet their supporters in Matabeleland North Province.
The club leaves on Friday morning and will have a stopover in Lupane, proceed to Halfway where they will have lunch then Hwange where they are scheduled to meet the fans.
Gumede said their members in Victoria Falls have catered for the team’s accommodation and meals.
“As per suggestions from the annual general meeting where we were encouraged to embark on membership drive and be visible as a team, we’re going to Victoria Falls on invitation from our members who are based there. We will meet supporters in Lupane, Hwange and Victoria Falls during the trip. The team will also play two friendly matches against clubs from the resort town on Saturday and Sunday,” said Gumede.
“Above all, the trip to Victoria Falls is meant to create a telepathic relationship between our players so that they understand each other. They will have more than six hours together in the bus going to Victoria Falls and will also unwind and get to know each other more.” The Chronicle