No Highlanders return — Cooper


Former Highlanders head coach Mkhuphali “Mr Cooper” Masuku has rubbished media reports that he could be returning to the Premiership football club to assist Zambian national Kelvin Kaindu.

Masuku’s contract and that of manager Jerry Sibanda expired on December 31 last year and both were not renewed by the then Themba Ndlela-led executive who blamed the gaffer for the second half of the season’s shoddy performance of the team.

Mr Cooper, who took over from Egyptian Mohamed Fathi, who had a turbulent time at Highlanders, yesterday dismissed the reports that he could be returning to the club.

“I am not going to Highlanders. I have never said I have the intention of returning to the club. In fact, I have got other plans at the moment. This is mere speculation. In any case, Highlanders have not approached me,” Masuku said.

Masuku had been linked to Hardbody who will play Premier League football next season following the Commercial Court of Arbitration’s ruling yesterday allowing them to join top flight football.

The Ndlela-led executive appointed Kaindu in absentia in December last year at a Press conference, in a move that many Highlanders supporters said was not wise pending executive elections that were held on February 5. Ndlela lost the chairmanship to Peter Dube, whose new executive, which retained secretary Andrew Tapela, is working with Kaindu.

Media reports at the weekend suggested that Mr Cooper could be bouncing back as assistant coach to replace Bekithemba “Super” Ndlovu, whose papers are reportedly not in order.

Ndlovu was appointed Kaindu’s assistant with Tembo Chuma the goalkeepers’ coach while former player Amin Soma-Phiri became manager.

Masuku has also been linked to FC Platinum as one of Rahman Gumbo’s assistants, but yesterday, the youthful coach refused to comment on a possible platinum miners’ move saying he had other plans.

“You can say I am looking for a job but look, all the clubs have coaches, but the truth is I am not going back to Highlanders for now. Those are just rumours,” Masuku said.

Meanwhile, the Bulawayo football giants play their sixth pre-season friendly match against Shabanie Mine at Luveve Stadium on Sunday as Kaindu prepares to name his final squad for the 2012 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season.
Striker Njabulo “Tshiki” Ncube, who left the club mid-season last year after scoring five goals to join former club Quelaton in Division One, trained with Highlanders at Milton High School last Friday.

Quelaton coach Thulani Sibanda has said Ncube is not part of his plans for his debut Premiership season.

Highlanders played their first friendly match against Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) and lost 2-1 before losing by the same scoreline to Quelaton at the same venue.

They beat Railstars 1-0 at Raylton Sports Club and won two matches against Zifa Central Region Division One side Chrome Stars in Kwekwe on Sunday.

They won the first match 3-1 and the other 1-0. Former FC Platinum midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa and ex-Hwange skipper Gerald Ndlovu played for Highlanders on Sunday. The club seems to have lost defender Obert Moyo, who has opted to sign for Caps United on a two-year deal.