Highlanders start pre-season preparations

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Highlanders began their 2012 Castle Lager Premier Soccer pre-season preparations on Monday under the watchful eye of new assistant player/coach Bekithemba Ndlovu.

Ndlovu — a former Warriors and Platinum Stars of South Africa rightback — will be Kevin Kaindu’s deputy. Kaindu, a Zambian national, starts work next week when he arrives from England where he was completing a coaching course.

Most of the players attended training on Monday save for senior players, goalkeeper Arial Sibanda, 2011 Castle Lager Footballer of the Year finalist Rahman Kutsanzira and midfielder Eric Mudzingwa.

Top goalscorer and another Footballer of the Year finalist Graham Ncube did not train and left early, but was at the clubhouse. The players were set to join the rest of the squad for yesterday’s afternoon training session at Luveve Stadium.

From the junior ranks, Honest Moyo, who was capped the Most Improved Player for the 2011 season and the Most Promising Player of 2011 and Knox Mutizwa are also part of the Highlanders squad.

Highlanders have not made any commitment to bring players from outside for the 2012 season and chairman Themba Ndlela said the club would recruite extensively from the junior academy.

Last year, Bosso signed from the juniors Talbert Shumba, Bhekinkosi Ndlovu, Bongani Rabvu, Sijabuliso Ndlovu, Arnold Ndiweni, Wilfred Maguraumwe, Mgcini Sibanda, Archford Katsande and Moyo.

Former coach Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku, however, did not give the lads game time until the last few games of the season — one of the reasons Ndlela said they had parted ways with the youthful gaffer as the club was now bent on promoting juniors.

Mutizwa and Moyo played the better part of the second half of the season. Highlanders 2011 Player of the Year and defence stalwart Innocent Mapuranga has already committed himself to another season at the former giants.

“I am not going anywhere. I am a Highlanders player and still want to play for Highlanders.
“I have not signed the contract yet, but I want the club and the Highlanders supporters to know that I will be playing for the team this year.

I am going to make sure that I sign for Highlanders once again,” Mapuranga said. Sources have said the steely defender is tipped to take over the captain’s armband after long-serving skipper Gilbert Banda crossed the floor to FC Platinum.