By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders Football Club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe says the Bulawayo soccer giants will not make unrealistic promises to players and pile the club’s debts, which is threatening the existence of the club.
In the past weeks, Bosso announced the collapse of contract negotiations with Gabriel Nyoni who is said to be on his way to Caps United and it looks like defender Peter Muduhwa is on his way out of the club.
Both players are said to have demanded that Bosso buy them houses so that they could extend their contracts.
Mhlophe said the club will stick to the restoration of Bosso legacy by promoting players from the club’s junior set up, in whom he said it was easy to instill the club’s culture and values compared to players acquired from other teams.
Highlanders coach Madinda Ndlovu is leading the legacy restoration project whose beautiful football won the fans’ hearts. In 2018, Bosso managed to assemble a home-bred squad that showed glimpses of good performance.
When he assumed the Highlanders chairmanship post last year, Mhlophe pledged to reduce the ballooning debt, which was about $1 million and threatened the club’s existence.
“Clearing the debt remains top of our priority. We promised that we will work on it and I’m happy to say that we’ve managed to arrest the debt. We’ve been living within our means and the debt hasn’t risen.
“What we realised is that the bulk of the debt is owed to former players and what we’ve done is to offer what we believe will not increase the debt. In as much as we want to win things, it is important that we don’t give in and sink deeper.
“In all the negotiations, the coach has been briefed on the challenges and what everyone is happy about is that we have managed to get the majority of the players signing before and during the festive holidays.
“Unlike in the past, you will see that when the team goes for pre-season it will only be an issue of maybe wrapping up one or two contracts, which sets a tone for a good season,” said Mhlophe.
Highlanders managed to retain a number of their key players, with some extending their contracts during the 2018 season.
Midfield workhorse Adrian Silla and box-to-box midfielder Brian Banda as well as goalkeeper Prosper Matutu were tied down in July last year with the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year Ariel Sibanda extending his contract by two years last month.
Bosso have strengthened their squad by securing the services of former Young Warriors trio of defensive midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku, attackers Bukhosi “Zakhu” Sibanda and Prince Dube.
Mhlophe applauded supporters’ chapters whom he said were supportive to the club’s operations.
“I’ll present my report at the annual general meeting but let me take this opportunity to thank the supporters for the donations they made to the club. We promised to have more interactive engagements with the supporters, and I can say they were very fruitful. We ran some crowd funding exercises which the fans supported, some chapters came to seek clearances to fundraise and we gave them the green light. It is through such initiatives and engagements with the supporters that as people given the mandate to lead the club, we feel that Highlanders’ future is bright,” said Mhlophe.
On the team’s projected performance, Mhlophe appealed to the supporters to rally behind the team.
“Obviously we are getting into the race to effectively compete. We all love to win but let’s not put pressure on the boys, let’s build from where we left in 2018. We ended the season strongly and we believe that the players learnt a lot in 2018 and will perform better in 2019,” Mhlophe said. The Chronicle