BONGANI Mafu was officially unveiled yesterday as the new Highlanders head coach for the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season at the team’s clubhouse in Bulawayo.
He signed a one-year contract from January 1 to December 31 2015 after which his performance will determine whether he will be given another stint with the Bulawayo giants.
Mafu, with a Uefa B coaching badge and had been based in the United Kingdom, returning to Zimbabwe last month, was given the first 10 matches to assess his performance in line with the club’s target, which is not necessarily to win the league, but to win back the hearts of the Highlanders family.
“We hereby today (yesterday) present formally and officially the man who will coach the team for the 2015 season. We are here to formalise the whole process.
We are unveiling non-other than Bongani Mafu as the new coach of the Highlanders Football Club. We have made all considerations and felt we have accommodated so many of our interests and aspects of the club. We believe he is highly qualified to generate the ambition. He has the background of the club other than being a die-hard supporter,” said club chairman Peter Dube.
Dube said the rest of the technical team would be announced in the first week of January and Mafu would be involved in head-hunting for his lieutenants with the executive having the final say.
Former manager and club chairman Ernest “Maphepha” Sibanda and ZPC Kariba manager Partson Ndabambi are tipped to take over from Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo.
Former Highlanders captain Dazzy Kapenya has been touted to take over as assistant to Mafu with Bosso reportedly courting back goalkeepers’ coach Tembo Chuma, who had also crossed the floor to ZPC Kariba. Dube said during his stay in the UK, Mafu dealt mostly with junior players and it was in that vein that he fitted well into the system as Bosso aims to revive the once vibrant junior policy. In an advertisement that Highlanders flighted a few weeks ago for the job of technical manager, Bosso stated that the incumbent “should have coached at Premier League level and be able to direct football development structures”.
Dube said of Mafu: “He goes on to fit the bill of junior policy. He has dealt with mainly young players in his entire life. We are hopeful that the culture and the nature of the club will thus be uplifted although he may need to be reminded, but he knows what it entails. He has been exposed to football standards that are at a higher level. We will help him 110% to get those results.”
Mafu said he was ecstatic to be joining the Highlanders family after many years abroad, having left the country when he was coaching Zimbabwe Saints, a team he helped survive relegation.
“I am an elated man. It is a pleasure for me to stand in front of you and tell you that I am the new Highlanders Football Club coach. I have been in the game for a long time, having coached locally, in Botswana and in Europe. I appreciate the pressure that comes with coaching Highlanders, but I embrace the challenge. They (other clubs) are going to struggle to beat me. My aim is to play excellent and disciplined football and win all the games. The other thing is to change the players’ mentality into knowing that football is work. I believe we have good players. What we have to change are ideologies, behaviours and approaches to make out the best possible,” he said.
Mafu holds a Uefa B Licence, German International Licence, Zifa Level IV coaching certificate and has been attached to Italian giants AC Milan.