BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS coach Mandla “Lulu” Mpofu says his squad lacks depth after coming from 2-0 to force a draw against Bulawayo Chiefs in a league match at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Mpofu said he would play on up to mid-season and see if he could come up with another dimension to his squad, but the Sunday average performance by his charges puts him under pressure as he prepares for the epic battle against Dynamos in his next assignment at Barbourfields Stadium again.
Even the Bulawayo giants’ faithful could not hide their disappointment on Sunday calling for Mpofu’s head as the team was being led 2-0 just after halftime before midfielder Adrian Silla saved the day with a brace that cancelled Elvis Moyo and Arthur Musiyiwa’s goals.
Mpofu said he was in a tight corner after the draw, which has become synonymous with Highlanders since the beginning of the 2021-22 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season in November last year.
“Let me soldier on up to mid-season and see if I can energise the players as much as possible. I don’t have depth. It’s unfortunate; we will try and see, but I am in a tight corner. Remember I played Nqo (Nqobizitha Musuku) five times on injections. If you see a coach making substitutions in the defence department, you can see that the coach has a very big problem,” Mpofu said.
Before the start of the season during the Chibuku Super Cup, Highlanders brought in Joel Ngodzo, Winston Mhango, Pritchard Mpelele and Keith Mavunga and also Washington Navaya and later Toto Banda.
Mavunga has been sitting on the bench for almost all the games played by his side; Ngodzo has failed to live up to expectation and sources say he will be offloaded in the next transfer window.
Banda is also a bench warmer, while Mpelele has been out for some time with an injury.
Mhango was shown the door in January.
In January, the club brought in Stanley Ngala whose scoring prowess is yet to show; and Rahman Kutsanzira, who missed the last two games due to ill-health.
Mpofu promoted Darlington Munkuli and Archford Faira from the developmental side Bosso 90 and it is only the former who has been given a bit of game time.
He also brought in goalkeeper Raphael Pitisi.
Striker Mthabisi Ncube, promoted to the first team in 2019, is a perennial bench warmer.
Despite assertions that he wants to make Barbourfields Stadium a fortress, Mpofu’s Highlanders have played three draws after beating Dynamos in the Independence Day Trophy final.
They made a painful comeback to settle for a point when they seemed headed for a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Cranborne Bullets, drew 1-1 with Chicken Inn before Sunday’s stalemate with the
Highlanders have only won three matches in 12 games, with their away game against FC Platinum awaiting PSL disciplinary committee ruling after the game was abandoned in the 82nd minute due to crowd trouble.
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