BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS assistant coach Joel Luphahla is excited by the coming in of Baltemar Jose de Oliveira Brito whom he hopes to learn from.
The Portuguese national and his compatriot Antonio Joao Martins Leao Torres are holders of Uefa Pro and Uefa B Licences, respectively with the former bringing with him a wealth of experience having worked under fellow countryman AS Roma manager Jose Mourinho at FC Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan among other jobs.
Luphahla has been under spotlight in the last two weeks after Highlanders fired Mandla Mpofu and he presided over two matches.
The former Warriors’ striker does not have the mandatory qualifications to be a Premier Soccer League head coach, but was cleared to take charge of the Bulawayo giants against ZPC Kariba at Nyamhunga Stadium last Saturday.
Brito and Torres watched from the terraces on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium as Luphahla presided over Highlanders, beating Harare City 1-0, courtesy of a second half spot-kick by goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
Luphahla is frustrated that Zifa has not offered any courses for a long time and the coming in of Brito to the Bulawayo giants comes in handy for the former Warriors player who has said he plans on acquiring further coaching badges outside the country.
“This is, indeed, an opportunity for me to upgrade myself as a coach. It will be sad for me not to tap a lot of knowledge from him (Brito). You have seen his CV. He is a very experienced coach and one can only be happy to work with such an experienced coach and I am hoping that we are going to benefit as a club and myself as an individual will benefit a lot. I am just going to open my heart and make sure that I tap as much knowledge as I can from him. I have gained a lot of knowledge from many people like I said I have also been taught by coach (Taurai) Mangwiro, so for me now to have him (Brito) by my side is a big advantage for me as a coach,” Luphahla said.
He paid homage to Mangwiro after beating his side Harare City saying the veteran coach was his mentor.
“Credit to coach Mangwiro, he is a very good coach, everything that you have seen here that I was doing today I was taught by him, he is my mentor. I am happy that as his student I got one over him; it shows that I am growing as a coach. Remember that I am here to learn so it’s good to get a little bit of good results, it gives confidence,” he said.
Luphahla played two youthful players promoted from Division One side Bosso90 and he is hopeful that Brito and Torres will take the same route of mixing youth and experience.
“I have always been a coach who believes in young players. I want to give these young players an opportunity to play. Today we gave one 18-year-old (Mthabisi Ncube) an opportunity to play. I think going forward that boy is going to improve. These are the players that are going to be at Highlanders for a very long time. When given an opportunity these boys will never let you down. The coach is here to help us. He is here to help the clubs and to help me also to grow as a coach. We are going to have a meeting tomorrow where we will sit and talk. I will present a report to him and from there I think it will be easy for us to say which route to take,” he said.
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