BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
HIGHLANDERS have effectively shut the door on British coach Mark Harrison after elevating his assistant Mandla Mpofu to the position of head coach on a one-year performance-based contract.
The Briton agreed with the Bulawayo giants to have his contract terminated following the suspension of football activities as authorities sought to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
With Highlanders also struggling to pay the coach, the two parties agreed that Harrison could return to his home country temporarily while waiting for their financial situation to improve.
However, with the situation getting worse for the Bulawayo giants mainly because football activities are yet to resume in Zimbabwe, the club hierarchy decided to rope in Mpofu to lead the team as they prepare for the new season expected to kick off in March next year.
Highlanders, one of the biggest clubs in the country, draws most of its revenue from gate receipts and has been the Premier Soccer League’s biggest cashcow in recent years.
That there has not been any football activity since March when government imposed a national lockdown in a bid to contain the deadly COVID-19 pandemic has compounded their woes.
Highlanders communications officer Ronald Moyo confirmed the development.
“I can confirm that Mandla Mpofu has been appointed the club head coach. The club found it prudent to do so because it doesn’t have money to pay Mark Harrison for now. The club also considered that Mandla has been involved in the project from 2018 when the team was headed by Madinda Ndlovu, so for continuity purposes, he has been given a one-year performance-based contract,” he said.
Mpofu takes over from Harrison, who terminated his contract by mutual agreement and returned to his home country England after football activities were halted by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Bulawayo giants insist that they are in still touch with Harrison with a view to re-engaging him in the event that their financial situation improves, it cannot escape a critical eye that this is the end of the relationship between the two parties.
The club’s chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube, who had been given a one-year contract, also had his contract extended by another year.
The club hierarchy reasoned that there had not been any football this season to measure his performance.