Wednesday, July 28, 2010

African Safari: How Highlanders FC Lose It.

[caption id="attachment_1168" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="The Beautiful Highlanders People"][/caption] 

Preamble. 

I started my Technical Advisory duties at the biggest club of all times, very shortly before an African safari that would end in pain, more so knowing when it did, that it was indeed an end of good times. I was still to know all the elders, the players and even the executive before all things came to a very sudden halt. The leadership was great and the expectations were too high and there was no time at all. What I pride myself in that, I had 2 winners' medals within months, both from hammering Dynamos - the Dairiboard Cup and the Independence Trophy. 

Sable de Batie. 

I watched Sable De Batie of Cameroon play Highlanders FC at Barbourfields Stadium. I was very much concerned, afraid but funny enough people were in jubilation. It was justified of course when a team is blasting in 3 goals without a reply, its nature. De Batie played a 1-4-4-2 but each link man playing as a defender with his own sweeper. The attackers ran their socks off being exempt of all defensive duties; an excellent way of playing away from home. You know it is common to get the wrath of people who do know you and I was being looked suspiciously, some people even saying how come I am not celebrating when the team is playing good. It was going to be an argument I was not going to win. 

Sad Loss. 

A few distinguished gentlemen who knew who I was, took me to task as to my worries. I told them that all will be well only if Sable De Batie were performing by chance. It was the days I was conducting coaching courses, and the very next weekend, I analysed that game with my class. The following day, we heard the results from Younde. Sable De Batie had scored the 3 goals they needed and won on penalties. 

Yanga Away Match. 

The biggest problems of my at Bosso were time and Biya. Thulani Ncube suffered a knee injury which eventually ended his career. There is no doubt on his influence on and off the pitch. Before I was even familiar with the operations of the club, Bosso had a date with Young Africans of Dar es Salam, Tanzania.  We took Biya to Dar es Salam despite his injury. There was a slim chance of him recovering and playing which we took. This became the biggest bone of contention in the technical staff. We decided against using him so he could be even better in the return leg. It became a game that was based on good defensive behaviour complemented by intelligent attack. 

On their part, the hosts depended on wing play. Our left side of the defence was not capable to contain their right-winger. That was made worse by Brito Gwere's poor cross collection. The organisation was bad in the absence of Biya. Getting a very favourable 2-2 draw was the worst thing to deal with. We should have lost that match. 

Yanga Home Match. 

The celebration of the draw was extrapolated to permutations and combinations to my disgust. There was too much credit and patting on the back. The executive and the technical department lost focus, without any measures to be working on a possibility of playing either Costa do Sol of Mozambique or Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa. On their part, the players saw themselves already shopping at Carlton Centre. 

Technically, our preparations were totally careless. We did not get our schedules followed to the letter as per instruction. I remember even personally forcing a penalty taking session with everybody saying there is no need as we will be fulfilling an ordinary fixture. As it turned out, the best we could have done that day would have been a 2-2 draw. We could have needed penalties. 

The executive did not help either. There was the biggest issue brewing behind closed doors. My understanding was that the video of the match that I had requested to be available, was to take time to be available. The idea was to make it a pay-per-view session elsewhere. As a way of making money, it was some entrepreneurial skills on their part. Sadly though, the tape got 'lost' somewhere until today. From there, as they say, the rest is history.  

This was the beginning of my end of my short stint.

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