By Mbekezeli Ncube
NEWLY appointed Highlanders technical manager, Hendrik Pieter De Jongh is vying to finish in the top half of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log standings come end of the season, NewZimbabwe.com has learnt.
The Dutchman first took charge of the Bulawayo giants from Mandla ‘Lulu’ Mpofu when Bosso knocked arch rivals Dynamos out of the first round of the Chibuku Super Cup at Rufaro Stadium last Sunday. His second game was even better as Highlanders claimed victory over city rivals and championship contenders Chicken Inn, winning 2-0 to at least take a huge step in escaping relegation.
“For me, I will be happy if we finish the season in the top eight of the log standings, then we will look forward in the future. Next season if I am still with the club, as we all know that I signed a contract until the end of the season, it is my intention to play for the top ranking,” said De Jongh.
Following their midweek victory over the Game Cocks, Highlanders have some breathing space away from the relegation zone as they sit on position 11 having played 24 games of which seven are victories, 10 stalemates and seven losses. They have collected 31 points, 13 adrift of log leaders Caps United with 10 games left to play.
Their next task is away to Herentals in Harare on Sunday.
Addressing journalists at a weekly Highlanders pre-match press conference, the former AFC Leopards, FC Cape Town, Heerjansdam and Woerdern (just to mention a few) coach said.
“Herentals are tough opponents to face, midweek they drew 0-0 against Manica Diamonds, however we must focus on ourselves. It won’t be easy but we have the mood and the spirit, hopefully we will come back with three points so that we move up the league ranking,” said De Jongh.
De Jongh also encouraged his team to forget about their Chicken Inn victory and focus on the next game- the future
“We have to be focused on the next game, I even told my players that yes a win is good, we beat Chicken Inn but we have to leave the past and focus on the future. Sunday is totally a different game and we are facing very tough opponents and we need the same aggression, the same mood and the same spirit of focus, concentration and being eager for victory. We know that Herentals also need as much points as possible,” he added.