By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders’ pre-season camp got off to the worst possible start when 11 players walked out of their hideout in Matabeleland South over unpaid January wages.
Bosso had taken 24 players for a week-long camp on Sunday and were joined by two more yesterday after completing their paper work.
The walkout would have left head coach Madinda Ndlovu and his lieutenants Mandla Mpofu and Bekithemba Ndlovu livid, as their plans are now in tatters.
Defensive midfielder Adrian Silla refused to board the bus for camp on Sunday, while new signing Bukhosi Sibanda did not travel because of a hand injury.
Following a stand-off on Monday when the players refused to train, Highlanders’ management led by chairman Kenneth Mhlophe drove to the team’s base where they addressed players late into the night, but failed to break the impasse.
The players reportedly woke up on Monday morning, had breakfast and retired to their rooms. They also had lunch and still refused to train, angering head coach Ndlovu.
Chronicle Sport spotted senior players, goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and midfielder Ben Musaka, in Bulawayo’s central business district with their bags yesterday evening.
The two are said to be among the leaders of the revolt who returned to their homes yesterday.
Mhlophe confirmed the stand-off and said they were trying to manage the situation so that the squad may have adequate pre-season preparations.
“After getting communication that the players didn’t want to train on Monday, we rushed to the camping site so that we could plead with them to carry on with the programme while we attended to their issues.
“We were frank with them and told them that they will get their salaries once we conclude sponsorship negotiations. Remember, the sponsor carried the salary bill and we are trying to manage the situation so that we don’t bring the name of the sponsor or the club into disrepute,” said Mhlophe.
“We offered them some allowances so that while they do their duties this week, we look for some funds which we said we were going to give them when they come for the camp break at the weekend. We couldn’t lie to them that is why we were frank with what we were temporarily offering them,” he said.
The squad was set to break camp on Saturday before returning for the second week at a different venue the following day.
Mhlophe left for Harare yesterday morning to attend a meeting with their sponsors. He was later joined by treasurer Donald Ndebele and chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube.
Highlanders had completed assembling their squad for the 2019 season and had travelled with new signings Prince Dube, ex-Dynamos winger Cleopas Kapupurika, former national Under-20 defensive midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku and utility player Mbekezeli Sibanda, who had a brief stint in Slovakia.
The other new signing who went to camp is ex-Mutare City Rovers goalkeeper Alfred Chiname.
Bosso are still negotiating with Bulawayo City for the services of goalkeeper Wellington Muuya, who is likely to be traded with Prosper Matutu. The Chronicle