HIGHLANDERS’ horrible display in their Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against Caps United raised a number of questions at the weekend, but the players deny there are problems at the club that are affecting their performance.
SUKOLUHLE MTHETHWA/ THANDIWE MOYO
A lot has been said concerning the performance of the club in recent weeks, with then head coach Kelvin Kaindu bearing the brunt of the accusations and eventually quitting, while some circles targeted the players.
Kaindu threw in the towel last week as some accused him of failing the team, with Mark Mathe taking over and facing a 0-4 humiliation by Caps United at the weekend in his first assignment as interim coach, which was Highlanders’ third loss in a row.
Critics have said the current Highlanders players are not passionate enough while donning the black and white strip,
while some say players are there for the money or as a passage to other teams — both locally and internationally.
Supporters have questioned the commitment of the players as some are reported to have been seen “partying” before or after crucial games.
There are reports of Highlanders players taking drugs and alcohol before and after matches which has been linked to their poor showing in the field.
The Caps United match on Sunday was no different as Highlanders were a pale shadow of the championship winning team of 1999-2002 and the steam rolling team that won the league title in 2006 after picking up 27 points from their first 11 games under Methembe Ndlovu.
Following the defeat to Caps United, Highlanders are still rooted on fourth position, but are now 10 points shy of log leaders Dynamos.
Bosso have dropped nine points in their last three encounters, falling to Harare City 0-1, ZPC Kariba 1-3 and the latest being their biggest loss of the season in the league.
Coincidentally, Bekithemba Ndlovu was criticised last year for losing 0-4 to Harare City which some believe led to his sacking, even though that was without the blessings of the Kaindu.
The Bosso hierarchy then imposed Mathe and goalkeepers’ coach Peter Nkomo, sideling Tembo Chuma.
All focus has been on the coaches and the drama that has surrounded the technical team, leaving the people who do most of the work unnoticed.
Our sister paper Southern Eye Sport spoke to some of the players on condition of anonymity who denied that there were problems within the club, but conceded that some players could be alligned to certain executive members and coaches.
Reports coming from the Bosso camp before Kaindu’s departure were that the Zambian and Mathe did not see eye-to-eye on some decisions and hence the team’s poor performance.
“Most of the stories that people are saying out there are not true. We are just going through a bad spell and each and every team in the league goes through that. They will also say that there are players who are alligned to a certain coach, but I have not seen that happening. We are trying our best, but it is not working. He [Kaindu] worked well with Mark [Mathe] and there was no rift between them,” the player said.
A teammate echoed similar sentiments, saying a lot was said when the team lost matches.
“Highlanders is a very big team and supporters don’t expect us to be defeated that way [Caps United match]. In a way, the coach’s [Kaindu] departure could have affected the team because pressure was on Mark [Mathe] as some people are saying Kaindu left because of him. We have to accept the result and not point fingers because as players, we ask ourselves what is wrong as well.
“Coaches have favourite players as there are certain players that Kaindu trusts, while Mathe has his own. That is why there are so many stories when we lose. In the next coming games, we would want to be united so that if we do not win the league, we can compete in the Mbada Diamonds Cup,” he said.
Another player said: “We played well in the first 10 minutes, but I don’t know what went wrong. We will keep on fighting. We are trying and maybe it is not our time because we had started the season very well. Naturally, a coach will have his favourite players. You find that in many teams.”