HIGHLANDERS coach Kelvin Kaindu has already declared his Premier Soccer League title intentions barely a month after his side began pre-season training.
Report by Michael Madyira
The traditional local football giants agonisingly lost last season’s championship stormy race to archrivals Dynamos on goal difference after finishing tied on 69 points.
It was a season which Highlanders had started promisingly after going on an emphatic 23-match unbeaten run before providing four players on the Soccer Star of the Year calendar.
While preferring to be diplomatic about his ambitions, Kaindu said they wanted to surpass last season’s performance, a clear indication of his title aspirations.
“Last season we were building a team for this year and we were not worried that we did not win the league. In every aspect of life there is always room for improvement. This year we want to do better than we did last season,” said Kaindu.
Reigning league champions Dynamos are likely to take this as a taunt.
While all the pre-season hype has been on capital city sides DeMbare and CAPS United and to some extent newboys Triangle, Highlanders have been quietly conducting their business.
The Bulawayo outfit’s pre-season training began on January 7 with fitness training at Hillside Dam in Bulawayo before switching to Ascot Racecourse and Fairbridge.
The former champions have so far retained all the players who did duty last season with ex-players Thabani Moyo and Njabulo Ncube trying out with the club.
The Motor Action duo of Fortune Ncube and Thembani Masuku are also training with Highlanders.
“Retaining last season’s players is very important and is a positive sign for us. It allows continuity and makes my job easier. Most of these players understand our concept of doing things and they know our vision outlined to them last season,” said Kaindu.
Highlanders’ pre-season looks competitive with matches against strong sides starting with Wednesday’s closed-door practice match against South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns at Babourfields.
They will then clash with Dynamos in the two-legged Bob ’89 Super Cup with the first leg being played on February 10 at Barbourfields, before the return match at Rufaro on February 24.
“Definitely, these matches are going to help us in preparing for the new season. We are playing big teams that will offer us stiff challenges which are needed to craft a strong team. These big clubs are ideal when you want to build combinations, tactics and confidence,” Kaindu said.
Meanwhile, Highlanders will hold their annual general meeting (AGM) today.
Likely to be part of the agenda is the club’s financial status and an audit report on financial irregularities that rocked the club last year leading to the resignation of treasurer Odiel Nkomo.
Also likely to draw serious discussion is the composition of the technical team where the posts of assistant coach and goalkeepers’ trainer as well as team manager have been vacant following the expiration of contracts of those that have been in those posts on December 31 last year.
Assistant coach Bhekithemba Ndlovu and goalkeepers’ mentor Tembo Chuma have Kaindu’s backing and are likely to retain their jobs while club legends are pushing for Emmet Ndlovu to return as team manager.
Willard Khumalo is also being tipped to replace Amin Soma-Phiri as manager.
Elections for the vice-chairman and treasurer’s posts will follow next weekend with seven candidates contesting to deputise chairman Peter Dube, while two are vying to be the treasurer.