By Mehluli Sibanda
A few days after his arrival at Highlanders in September last year, Pieter de Jongh wanted Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu fired from the club after the two clashed over the Dutchman’s claims to a win achieved before he took over as Bosso head coach.
Information provided by a dependable source indicated that De Jongh insisted that the 3-1 triumph by Highlanders over Bulawayo Chiefs on 25 September at Barbourfields when he was yet to take charge of the team since he did not have a work permit should be attributed to him.
Because of that disagreement, the Dutchman wanted Mpofu removed from the Bosso first team and his place taken by Bosso90 coach Melusi
“Mabaleka” Sibanda. The Highlanders leadership stood firm and told him that Mpofu was there to stay.
“Pieter de Jongh had a heated exchange with Mandla after he claimed in a technical meeting that the win over Bulawayo Chiefs was his and Mandla questioned that.
”He wanted Mandla fired from the first team and replaced by Mabaleka but the club leadership was firm and told De Jongh that he had to work with those he found at the club,’’ said the source.
Mpofu is said to have taken advice from the club leadership and De Jongh started trusting him more for game analysis. The revelations come amid talk that De Jongh now wants Mpofu to join him at FC Platinum to replace Lizwe Sweswe who seems to have fallen out of favour with the Dutchman.
“Mandla humbled himself, he listened to what the club administration advised him. From there on, De Jongh started relying more on Mandla for analysis, maybe that’s why he wants him.
The talk of de Jongh wanting Mandla has been going on for a while, of course people will deny that because Sweswe is under contract,’’ further stated the source.
De Jongh is said to have wanted a lot of people removed from the Bosso first team during his short stint because of disagreements.
“Because Mandla had been the head coach, he wanted him gone, he wanted the doctor to go, he wanted the physiotherapist Loyal Nyika to go, he wanted the team doctor (Shepherd Khumalo) to go, he wanted team manager Vezigama Dlodlo gone, he even wanted the bus driver to go.
He basically had disagreements with everybody but these things were kept under wraps because Highlanders wanted to paint a rosy picture,’’ added the source.
The source said it did not come as a shock if De Jongh was indeed having problems with Sweswe because he has a huge “sense of self-esteem”.
“It’s not surprising that if he is having problems with Sweswe, it was always going to come. He has an ego the size of an elephant. Maybe FC Platinum will be able to tame him. For some of us, more is going to come, with time he will clash with a lot of people at FC Platinum.”
Highlanders media officer Ronald Moyo could not be drawn to comment on things that happened during De Jongh’s time at the club.
“We don’t comment about past employees or what is happening at other clubs, our professional mandate is to remain respectful to our opponents,’’ Moyo said.
De Jongh yesterday declined to comment on reports that he wanted Sweswe out. Sweswe, whose contract expires at the end of the year, said he was not aware that there were plans to remove him from his position. The Sunday News