By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Veteran football administrator Ndumiso Gumede has ruled the Bulawayo giants Highlanders out of this year’s championship race saying the newly assembled youthful side probably needs time to develop before they can fight for honours.
Bosso’s last league title came just over a decade ago under the guidance of former player Methembe Ndlovu and since then, the Bulawayo giants have had to watch from a distance as smaller and now defunct clubs like Monomotapa, Gunners and Motor Action went on to win titles.
And as if not enough during that same period, their fierce rivals Dynamos have gone on to win a further five league champions while neighbours Chicken Inn went on to clinch their maiden championship in 2015.
Following a somewhat lukewarm season under Dutch coach Erol Akabay who quit the giants citing poor working conditions, Highlanders chose to bring back former player, Madinda Ndlovu, who decided to do away with older players in his bid to bring good old days to the club.
Ndlovu’s youngsters fared well in the ZNA Charity Shield beating Chicken Inn 2-1 in the semifinals before humbled by a relatively youthful Dynamos side losing 2-1 in the final.
While their performances in those matches raise a lot of expectations amongst the team’s followers, Gumede who is also the club’s for chief executive thinks otherwise.
“If I were to be realistic I don’t see him (Ndlovu) pulling out a winning league streak,” Gumede told Daily News on Sunday.
“The important thing is that he just avoids relegation and keep the same players for next year. I am almost certain that their year is next year, not this year,” he said.
While Gumede feels Bosso are on a rebuilding exercise, Ndlovu is on record saying he was not rebuilding but preparing a team that will contest for honours.
Gumede hailed Ndlovu for bringing back at Bosso the youth policy culture.
The former Mochudi Centre Chiefs coach chose to do away with old horses such as Simon Munawa, Eric Mudzingwa, Ralph Matema and Tendai Ngulube among others and opted to promote juniors from the club’s division one side, Bosso 90 and their Under 18.
Apart from retaining some bright young prospects like Brian Banda, Charlton Siamalonga, Godfrey Makruse, Ray Lunga, Bosso have also acquired the services of former Hwange and Bulawayo city striker Newman Sianchali.
Also part of the young blood added into the fold is Nigel Makumbe, Munyaradzi Chitambwe and Ben Musaka.
“It is not a new phenomenon, many times I hear people say we are lost because we don’t have junior policy. Highlanders has always had without failure under 14, 16 and 18, the fact that some coaches who come there decides to concentrate on the first team has been the biggest undoing of the club and the return of Madinda Ndlovu is a welcome one because he knows he grew up there, he is part and a product of the youth policy and I highly recommend that he sticks to that,” said Gumede.
He added: “During his (Ndlovu) time boys were coming from the youth clubs, which unfortunately don’t exist anymore but Highlanders as a club has always returned the semblance of respective youths.”
Asked about the widely held belief among Bosso supporters that most coaches have failed due to constant interference from the executive where some players are made to play even when they are outside the coach’s plan, Gumede chose to differ.
“The coach has absolute control of who plays, we may want as supporters to see the artistry of King Nadolo but if the coach thinks the player is not playing to his instructions, the coach will leave him out.
“It doesn’t matter how much noise you make outside. We must respect the choices of the coach. After all if the team loses it’s the coach who gets the flak, it’s not us on the side-lines,” Gumede said.
Bickering, back biting and power struggle has largely been attributed to the team’s under performance, but the now retired football administrator has a word of advice to the Bosso executive.
“The team doesn’t play well if there is no cohesion in the executive, I can’t explain it too, I don’t know what really happens. But if there is working together and cohesion, sharing the same views, somehow it transcends to the team. I would advise that they iron out whatever the differences they have so that we have a coherent executive with one vision and one focus.” Daily News