By Ricky Zililo
South African Premiership side Bidvest Wits are reportedly tracking Highlanders’ right-back McClive Phiri and dispatched scouts to watch the player in the Chibuku Super Cup final against Ngezi Platinum Stars on Saturday.
A source said the scouts are expected to report to Wits director of football Roy Limongelli about their sojourn after Phiri put up a flawless display, as Highlanders beat Ngezi 1-0 to lift the Chibuku Super Cup.
Should Phiri impress the Students, Bosso could lose out on transfer fees, as the player’s contract expires at the end of the month.
“Wits scouts have been following the Highlanders’ right-back for a while now and were in Bulawayo to make their final assessment. They’ll report back to the club’s director of football and decide on what course of action to take. Wits are keen on the right-back. They will not make attempts to get striker Prince Dube because they want a big built striker,” said the source.
Phiri, who has four national team caps earned from Zimbabwe’s World Cup qualifiers against Somalia in Djibouti and Harare, as well as the two legs of the Chan final qualifier against Lesotho, has been a consistent performer for Bosso.
His ability to overlap and deliver good crosses into the box adds to his team’s attacking options and that has also made him one of the best right-backs in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
Phiri is one of three players, including midfielders Nqobizitha Masuku and Denzel Khumalo, whose contracts with Highlanders expire at the end of the month.
Highlanders’ spokesperson Ronald Moyo said the club was not aware of the presence of Wits scouts at the final.
“It’s only natural that when you’re playing well and you reach a final of a major tournament, your players tend to attract interest from other teams, especially from the region. We didn’t know that there were scouts tracking the player, but that really doesn’t come as a shock because of the way Highlanders have been performing,” said Moyo.
Renowned football agent with strong links to South African clubs Gibson Mahachi was part of the crowd that watched the epic final.
Mahachi is credited with facilitating South African moves for a number of Zimbabwean players, who include Divine Lunga, Knox M’tizwa, Danny Phiri and Teenage Hadebe.
Moyo said negotiations for Phiri’s contract extension were underway.
“It’s public knowledge that Phiri’s contract expires at the end of December and as a club we have notified the player that he is in our plans for next season, hence commencement of contract negotiations,” Moyo said.
Should Phiri leave, Highlanders will turn to Bukhosi Ncube, whose season was plagued by a career threatening knee injury that kept the defender on the sidelines for the better part of the year. The Chronicle