PREMIER Soccer League newboys TelOne insist they will stick to the players who helped them to get promoted as they prepare for life in the elite league in the forthcoming season.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
TelOne’s main objective in their first year in the top-flight league is to avoid relegation.
Club coach Joel Luphahla said he has confidence in the group of players that he has been working with, and that they can keep the team afloat.
The former Highlanders and Warriors forward said he did not believe in recycling players and wants to give emerging players a chance.
He explained that upcoming players needed to be given a chance and that recycling players did not help develop football in the country.
“We don’t believe in recycling players. We believe in identifying and nurturing talent. Recycling players does not develop our football, and I am confident with the team that we have assembled. We have no big names, but it’s a talented group that can compete. Look at Herentals, they didn’t have any big names; their players didn’t have any experience in the top-flight and they even had a 45-year-old player, yet they managed to survive relegation. What is important is talent, not experience,” Luphahla said.
The TelOne coach said the fact that he was signed by Highlanders from lower division side in 1997 and went on to play for the Warriors, demonstrates that experience was not the real issue, but talent.
“I believe experience is not the issue, but talent. You need to identify good players. I was spotted by Highlanders while playing in the rural areas for Tsholotsho, and I went on to play for the national team. So, my argument is that we must give these emerging players a chance. This is what we are doing, and we will just add one or two players from the Premier Soccer League, but, certainly, they won’t be big names,” he said.
Luphahla said he already had three players who played for Tsholotsho before they were relegated in striker Mostapha Ponyera, who finished as the top goal scorer in the Central Region, Pride Zivengwa and Blessing Sibanda.
“We are a small club and these are the only players who have played in the Premier Soccer League before. We are a small club and we don’t have the money to lure big-name players,” he said.
The former Warriors forward is credited with guiding TelOne to the Division One championship last season and the spotlight will be on his side as they venture into the top-flight league.