Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS could miss a glorious opportunity to return to the African Safari as their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup hangs in the balance due to lack of funds.
Bosso secured the country’s sole ticket to play in the second-tier African clubs’ football competition after they won the Chibuku Super Cup following their controversial 1-0 triumph over Ngezi Platinum Stars at Barbourfields in November last year.
But the Bulawayo giants are yet to decide on whether or not to take part in the lucrative tournament that begins in August as they have no secure source of funding.
Their principal sponsors, NetOne, are yet to respond to correspondence sent to them by this publication last year.
The Bulawayo giants will hold their annual meeting later this month, with their participation in the CAF Confederation Cup expected to be one of the items to be deliberated on.
Team spokesperson Ronald Moyo said his club was not in a hurry to give their position since there is still ample time to consider a lot of things.
“We are yet to decide on whether we are going to participate in the CAF Confederation Cup or not. In any case, the deadline for confirmation is still months away and we can’t rush and give our position yet,” said Moyo.
“At the moment, we are busy preparing for our Annual General Meeting which will be held later this month. We will discuss a number of items at the meeting including our off-season preparations and the players who are coming and those going out.
“We need some time as a team with Highlanders stakeholders and everyone involved to discuss before we come up with a decision on whether or not to participate in the CAF Confederation Cup.
“We are an institution which has some professional values and we know there is time to announce and confirm everything.”
Though last season’s CAF Confederation Cup representatives Triangle confirmed their participation in the tournament immediately after winning the country’s premier knockout tournament in November 2018, Bosso cannot afford the same luxury as they are one of the financially-struggling outfits in the league.
If Highlanders fail to participate in the tournament, losing finalists Ngezi Platinum Stars could be given the chance to participate.
Bosso will be hoping to have a better pre-season than the one they had last season, which was largely blamed for the team’s poor first half of the season performance.
Highlanders, under the mentorship of Madinda Ndlovu, had a near disastrous pre-season with some players staging sit-ins throwing the whole process into turmoil.
Consequently, the team had a false start to the season and for the better part of the first half, they were struggling in the red-zone with relegation looking increasingly a real possibility.
But, the side, in search of a first Premiership title since 2006, suddenly erupted towards the end of the season following the appointment of Dutch technician, Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh.
The Dutchman applied some magic to the ailing machine and turned them into Chibuku Super Cup champions as well as a strong sixth-place finish in the league.
De Jongh has since left the side, opting to join champions FC Platinum, while Bosso have appointed former Harare City and CAPS United gaffer Mark Harrison.
Harrision is understood to have requested the services of Harare City forwards Martin Vengesayi and Kuda Musharu.
Bosso have already lost midfield stalwart Denzel Khumalo who was baited to FC Platinum by de Jongh.
Meanwhile, our Bulawayo Bureau reports that Highlanders are hopeful of securing a work permit for their British coach Harrison in time for the start of the 2020 pre-season preparations on January 16.
The 59-year-old Briton took over the dressing room duties at Highlanders after he agreed a two-year deal, replacing Dutchman Hendriek Pieter de Jongh who joined champions FC Platinum after the expiry of his four month contract with Bosso.
“We are running around trying to secure the coach’s papers which we hope will be in order by the time we begin our pre-season preparations on January 16. We are hopeful that all will go smoothly with the relevant authorities in that regard,” said Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe.
The Briton, who is not new to Zimbabwean football having previously been with CAPS United and Harare City, will work with assistants Mandla Lulu Mpofu and Bekithemba Super Ndlovu, quashing previous claims that Bulawayo Chiefs coach Thulani Sibanda has been roped in.
“Considering our philosophy as a club and his style of football, he emerged the best candidate to take up the huge responsibility. He will work with the existing club technical structures and general staff, which includes juniors, developmental team and first team coaches,” Mhlophe said in his statement on the day the club confirmed Harrison’s appointment.
Harrison becomes the third British coach to take charge of Highlanders after Bobby Clark and the late Eddie May, who both had successful stints with the Bulawayo giants.
He comes at a time when the Bulawayo giants have declared their intention to lift the Premier Soccer League Cup they last won in 2006 with Methembe Ndlovu as head coach. For a brand as big as Highlanders, going for 13 years without a league title is a huge slap in the institution’s reputation but usually when such teams find their strides, they usually become unstoppable like what Liverpool is doing in the English Premier League.
And Highlanders have renewed chief executive Nhlanhla Dube’s tenure for one year and are now in the hunt for a marketing executive as the club moves towards full compliance with club licensing.
Bosso have always led in terms of professionalism and adherence to its constitution despite financial challenges.
“The chief executive officer’s contract has been extended by another year. It was a unanimous decision by the executive and as we speak to you he is already in office doing his duties,” said club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe at the weekend.
Dube, a former club committee member and secretary-general, was first appointed Bosso chief executive officer in May 2017 on a two-year contract, replacing veteran administrator Ndumiso Gumede, who retired after an illustrious football administration career.
Mhlophe also revealed that the club was eager to engage a marketing expert.
“In any organisation, you can’t really do anything or much without a marketing department and we would want to have that as Highlanders. If all goes well, that post must be filled before the end of the year.
“The Premier Soccer League is actually supporting the idea of clubs having marketing portfolios,” said Mhlophe, who runs a successful security company.