By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders FC head coach Madinda Ndlovu became the first head of the technical team to address the club’s bonafide members at an annual general meeting by spelling out his philosophy that will cascade to the juniors.
The Highlanders legend, who was roped in at the beginning of 2018 when club members called for a Bosso son to take over the reins and restore their culture, gave a detailed 20-minute report of the club’s trajectory.
Ndlovu justified his decision to ask for Bekithemba Ndlovu as an assistant coach with Mandla Mpofu, saying this would help ease pressure on the technical team, as he works on introducing Highlanders’ philosophy to the junior teams.
“In terms of the club’s structure, I get to stand for all technical matters right from Under-14s to the senior team.
“So, bringing Bekithemba to join us in the first team was meant to reduce the pressure so that we put development structures from Under-14s to the senior team.
“With Mandla Mpofu as the only qualified coach to sit on the first team bench, it was going to be difficult for time management while working with the junior teams as well,” said Ndlovu.
“Roping in Bekithemba was not because of similar surnames, but it was by virtue of saying that our philosophy and our theme, the drive to have Highlanders’ sons who understand the culture be integrated into the system.
“I sincerely believe Bekithemba is capable of coaching at this level. This will also afford me time to put into practice that philosophy from Under-14s.
“I will now have time to go to the Under-14s, Under-16s, Under-18s and Bosso 90 training sessions as well as travel for their games, overseeing the philosophy that is about trademark of football that should be identified with Highlanders in play,” he said.
Ndlovu said Highlanders’ philosophy borders on a fast, entertaining game that excites fans.
“Fans are very important. What does our philosophy do to our fans? We want to foster a sense of belonging for our fans, foster a sense of pride and ownership, and create entertaining and enjoyable play.
“We have to play football that will give value for money and create a good family atmosphere through team play.
“To our sponsors, we want to maximise brand visibility and display the best possible disciplined team play to maximise mileage for them.
“We want to create a sense of attachment between the Highlanders family and try and unite all the time so that we achieve what we want. Our players should be ambassadors of the sponsors and club.”
Ndlovu spoke about qualities of a player that Highlanders want to fit in this philosophy.
“Our basic formations will lead to how we recruit our players. Our basic formation is 1-4-1-4-1 and in transitional formation we resort to a 1-4-3-3, with wingers folding in to form a three striking formation.
“Each position has its own qualities. For goalkeepers, we’re looking for a shot stopper that can save one-on-ones.
“He has to be a good ball distributor, a good reader of the game, communicates and directs the defence very well. For central defenders, they must be good readers of the game, or say game phases; that is when attacking or defending.
“We don’t want reckless tacklers, but experts in tackling who know what tackle to use. They must have the ability to track, a good header of the ball who can protect the goalkeeper.
“Wing defenders must defend and attack well. Provide width in attack and depth in defence. Ability to move forward in support of attack, send crosses into the box and have game intelligence to know when to attack and when to defend.”
He said defensive midfielders, who link defence and midfield must be intelligent, know when to attack, have good ball control and the ability to attack and be comfortable on the ball.
“Wing attackers, where I used to play, first preference is speed, with ability to dribble; good crosser of the ball and good defending ability. Have creativity that covers strength and flexibility,” he said.
Ndlovu told members that he prefers using two attacking midfielders that must be skilful and good readers of the game.
They must also have the ability to score goals, take shots at goal and create scoring opportunities for others.
“On strikers, accuracy tops the order. We want a good dribbler able to take on opponents in one-on-one situations. He must be able to play with his back to the goal when scoring, meaning instincts are paramount. Our players have to be able to perform under pressure,” Ndlovu said. The Chronicle