NEW Highlanders head coach Bongani Mafu has said that he intends to build his team around an exciting crop of emerging young talent to spearhead their revival when the new season begins in March.
Mafu was recruited at the ailing Bulawayo giants in December with the sole mandate of bringing back the glory days for a club which last won the Castle Lager Premiership title back in 2006.
And after a few weeks of pre-season training, the former Zimbabwe Saints man has been impressed by the level of talent and enthusiasm displayed by Bosso’s rising stars, many of whom are products of the club’s famed junior policy.
“We have some exciting prospects here and if they can show that they have the heart to perform (in competitive matches) before large crowds then we are in for some exciting times. We have been talking to them and preparing them for the challenges ahead,” Mafu said in an interview.
Knox Mtizwa, Godfrey Mataruse and Ozias Zibande already boast some top-flight experience while skilful midfielder King Nadolo also impressed after a few appearances in the final stages of last season.
Furthermore, Highlanders have recalled several young players from loan spells at smaller clubs while also recruiting highly-rated 18-year-old striker Thomas Chideu, who has just returned home after a stint in England.
Mafu, however, admitted that the team needed experience upfront to give guidance to the younger players.
“We can’t send the young players (into battle) on their own. We need somebody experienced enough to carry the boys and that is why my squad is still tentative. I am looking for one good mature striker,” he said.
On a personal level, Mafu is confident that the experience he has amassed down the years will come in handy as he begins his task amid heightened expectations at the league’s oldest club.
“I have been to several big institutions around the world, and being at Highlanders is a daunting challenge but given the experience, I believe I can cope. I am not afraid.
“It has been an exciting few weeks so far. It has been fun. Everyone has been given a chance in a match situation and on the training pitch. We are now finalising our squad and looking forward to a good campaign,” he said.
Mafu holds UEFA B coaching licence and has, in the past, coached Gaborone United in Botswana. He also had an attachment at Italian giants AC Milan during his stay in England.Advertisement