HIGHLANDERS players are not fit judging from the way they played in their last Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) match against How Mine, coach Bongani Mafu has told the club’s executive committee.
BY THANDIWE MOYO
Highlanders drew 1-1 with How Mine on June 7 after they were awarded a last-minute penalty which saw then snatch a point.
Club chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede confirmed during a Press conference yesterday that Mafu had started working on the players’ fitness during the PSL break and has one more week to get his house in order ahead of the Dynamos match next Sunday.
“The coach has seen, courtesy of the How Mine game, that there is an element of not being fit in his players. So he has started a small fitness training,” said Gumede.
The players are said to have been divided into two groups, one which played a friendly match against Ajax Hotspurs yesterday and another which went on a road run from Barbourfields Stadium to Victoria Falls Garage in Richmond. The road run is about 14km to and from the service station.
“He (Mafu) has divided the team into two. One team will play a friendly this afternoon (yesterday), the other will run from the base (Barbourfields Stadium) via United College of Education to Falls Garage and back,” he said.
Gumede conceded that this was not the time for them to be working on their fitness levels as it had to be done at the beginning of the season.
“Now we should not be concentrating on fitness. We should be concentrating on tactics and not fitness. Fitness is right at the beginning. With all due respect, I’m not a technical man,” he said.
A number of Highlanders players who include Mthulisi Maphosa, Gabriel Nyoni, Takunda Mutanga and Welcome Ndiweni were nursing injuries, but some have since recovered.
Mutanga and Maphosa have started training with the team.
He added that they had told the technical team not to let indiscipline affect the team’s performance.
“There is a return of slight indiscipline in our team,” he said.
“Our feeling is that people who earn a lot of money seem to have disposable income. We have told the technical department not let this thing start again. It ruined us last year and we can’t fall onto the same trap.”
Gumede was making reference to the strike that happened a few days before they were to play FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.
The players went on strike demanding their winning bonuses despite having been paid their salaries on the same day.
“We are now one bonus payment short, but we keep paying and we talked to the players about the strike action, particularly the last one. It really disgusted both the executive and the board,” he said.
Gumede added that none of the players had been called for a disciplinary hearing, but they were aware of the indiscipline in the team.