By Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS have given up any hopes of keeping the services of nomadic English coach Mark Harrison and have elevated his assistant Mandla Mpofu to the head coach job on a one-year performance-based contract ahead of the 2021 season.
Harrison “temporarily” suspended his contract with the Bulawayo club in May this year to return to the United Kingdom following the cancelation of the 2020 Premier Soccer League due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 59-year-old mentor, who previously coached CAPS United and Harare City, had joined the Bulawayo club in January before taking charge of one match – a 2-0 defeat to champions FC Platinum – in the season-opening Castle Challenge Cup before his departure.
With hopes of retaining Harrison’s services now over, Highlanders chairman Kenneth Mhlophe confirmed the appointment of Mpofu to the Bosso coaching job.
“We have appointed Mandla Mpofu to take over the role of head coach and he will be assisted by Bekithemba Ndlovu. Mandla’s (current) contract with Highlanders expires at the end of the year and we agreed as an executive to give him a performance based one-year contract. The other coaches still have running contracts with the club,” said Mhlophe.
“We have faith in Mandla to lead the team and give us good results. He has been part of the technical team for a long time and understands the philosophy of the club.”
Mhlophe revealed that the Bulawayo giants are no longer in a position to cater for Harrison’s remuneration package due to financial constraints.
Highlanders are reeling after their main sponsors NetOne did not renew their funding for the 2020 season.
“We are not in a good financial standing to pay Harrison and he is well aware of our situation, but we have kept our doors open to working with him in future if the situation improves. Our benefactors, who paid Harrison’s salary, were also hit hard by effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and could not continue paying him,” he said.
Mpofu joined Highlanders in the 2018 season as assistant coach to Madinda Ndlovu.
Following Ndlovu’s departure from Highlanders in July last year, Mpofu was appointed head coach on an interim basis before reverting back to his role after the arrival of Dutchman Hendrikus Pieter de Jong.
After the 2020 season failed to kick off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mpofu’s immediate task will be to prepare for the 2021 season.