Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
Premiership football champions FC Platinum believe the arrival of Dutch coach Hendrik Pieter De Jongh could be the game-changer in their quest to spread their impact beyond the country’s borders.
The widely travelled 49-year-old coach was unveiled by the three-time Zimbabwean football kings yesterday, taking over from Lizwe Sweswe, who has been working on an interim basis since the departure of Norman Mapeza in September last year.
Sweswe reverted to being the first assistant coach, with Patrick Mandizha below him. Former Highlanders goalkeepers’ coach Tembo Chuma was also roped into the new technical team set-up and was presented to the media at the unveiling ceremony.
Apparently, FC Platinum wanted an experienced coach to help them navigate the difficult CAF inter-club competition and the club’s chairman Evans Mtombeni yesterday said De Jongh, who has coached football in Europe, Africa and Asia, could be the perfect man for the job following his short and promising stint with rivals Highlanders last season.
“I think the arrival of De Jongh bodes well with our vision and ambitions as a team. We always seek to improve and as a club we believe in his experience taking us to a certain level. He is quite an experienced coach, someone who has coached various clubs and national teams in Africa.
“We also highly regard him following his success with Highlanders last year. We felt his abilities can help us locally and in the CAF competitions as well in fulfilling our vision as the best team locally and also to improve in our participation in the Champions League. We are glad he signed a long-term contract.
“I would also like to thank Sweswe for steering the ship home last year and winning the league title under such difficult competition. We can only be stronger going forward,” said Mtombeni.
FC Platinum have lifted the last three Castle Lager Premiership titles to establish their dominance at home.
Two of the titles were won by Mapeza in 2017 and 2018 while Sweswe led them to another success story last season as an interim coach.
The platinum miners, however, have been finding it difficult to stand the heat in Africa, hence the need to beef-up their technical bench with a much experienced coach.
De Jongh is expected to start working once all the paperwork and his work permit are done. FC Platinum will host Egyptian heavyweights Al Ahly in a CAF Champions League in Bulawayo this week.
They have so far lost all three games in their group which also includes Sudanese giants Al Hilal and Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia. De Jongh has promised to turn around the fortunes of the club.
The former Swaziland coach hailed the Zvishavane side for their professional approach to football, which has been credited for the team’s growing success at home.
“I feel happy to be here at FC Platinum today for the official announcement. They are professional. Everything they do, they are professional, on the pitch and outside the pitch they are professional.
“I look in the long term and what I want is success in the long term.”
“The team had success in the past but we want bigger success and that can only be made possible if we win everything.
To me it’s not easy but we will go for it, that’s what we want, good football, attractive football, good possession, passing football and be very successful.
“I know that the former coach (Norman Mapeza) did a very great job. He was a big player. I am the first European coach at this club and it makes me proud but I am here to prove my qualities as a coach.
“I believe I have the qualifications to take the club to the next level.
I cannot work alone. I need support from the board, I need support from my staff, I need support from the players and I believe with very good co-operation we can bring great success,” said de Jongh.
He was at Highlanders last season where he led the Bulawayo giants to remarkable transformation during his three-month stint. De Jongh managed to lead them to the Chibuku Super Cup glory and finishing sixth in the league after inheriting a struggling team.
However, he decided against renewing his contract despite a successful short spell. He also revealed he never applied for the vacant Warriors job.
“I made a decision not to go for contract extension because for me as a coach I have ambitions.”
I want to work on a big platform and for me a big platform is FC Platinum. My focus is on FC Platinum and not on any other things,” said De Jongh.