Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku was on Monday officially appointed head coach of Bulawayo soccer giants Highlanders.
The announcement was made by the Highlanders executive at a hastily arranged press conference at the club offices to which NewsDay Sport was not invited.
A source who attended the press conference told NewsDay Sport that Mr Cooper was now at the helm while Jerry Sibanda was unveiled as the club’s welfare manager.
The source said Masuku would choose his assistant, who will be announced by the end of the week.
“Cooper was announced as the new head coach and Jerry Sibanda is now the welfare manager. Both appointments were with effect from today (Monday).
Cooper will choose his assistant and he will be unveiled by the end of the week,” the source said.
He said Highlanders also said they are finalising a sponsorship deal and would announce the sponsors by the end of the month.
Sources say funders of the Zifa Southern Region Division One Soccer League, Buscod Supermarkets, could be the Bulawayo soccer giants’ next sponsor.
Highlanders will start their preparations for the 2011 Premiership next Tuesday and on the issue of players, the executive is said to have stated they would stand guided by the technical team, with most of the players leaving the club.
Phoned on Monday morning after this reporter got wind of the press conference to which NewsDay Sport was not invited, Highlanders secretary Andrew Tapela professed ignorance of the meeting and said he was away at How Mine where he is a headmaster.
“I am not aware of such a press conference and I am away at school,” Tapela said before hanging up. It however turned out that Tapela was at the Highlanders’ offices where the brief press conference was held.
A NewsDay Sport crew which went to the offices earlier was told that the press conference was over and Tapela was busy attending another meeting.
NewsDay Sport returned later and was told that Tapela, who was not answering his mobile phone, was still locked up in a meeting.
It is not the first time that Tapela has behaved aggressively towards NewsDay Sport reporters as he manhandled the publication’s photographer for taking pictures at the Highlanders’ offices last year.
It all started when NewsDay Sport started publishing articles about the club’s financial standing and revealing that their players were resorting industrial action due to unpaid salaries.
Tapela vowed never to speak to this publication saying the paper was writing negative stories about Highlanders.
Sports Writers’ Association of Zimbabwe Southern Region chairman Dave Simba had no kind word for Highlanders.
He said his organisation was not invited to the press conference as well.
“We feel very disturbed if they are going to exclude us as stakeholders. Our viewers and our readers want to know what is happening at Highlanders. We are disturbed by the events that are obtaining at Highlanders in that there is a press conference and only one organisation is invited. We arrive at the venue and we are told that the press conference is over when we are only 10 minutes late. Highlanders is a big institution and their supporters and fans are entitled to know what is happening at the club,” Simba said.
Early last year, Highlanders held a press conference which they said was solely for mending bridges with the media.