At the weekend, Njabulo Ncube scored a brace to inspire Highlanders to their first win of the year when they played host to Tripple B in a friendly match at Barbourfields Stadium but then news that the club claiming a huge fan-base was out muscled together with reigning champions, Dynamos from a season opening Charity Cup sponsored by NetOne.
The Bulawayo giants were defeated 2-1 defeat by Gwanda Ramblers last month and by visiting Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa before then. Bosso also lost twice to Dynamos in the Bob 89 Super charity matches. These may be disappointing times given that the team played well in the last campaign, giving the followers hope that happy days are coming again.
The club management had to deal with problems of their own in trying to contract the technical teams to work with Kelvin Kaindu, who himself has a one year left on his contract. Given the level of the game in the Castle Lager Premier League, one hopes these factors could be insignificant but the scope of operation for the club that wishes to be best, professionalism can never be compromised.
Highlanders' assistant coach Bekithemba Ndlovu described the victory as a booster and the boys need other external boosters to remain at the level they were last time around and bigger forces to raise the bar an inch. An inch will not be enough as much as good is never good enough.
Highlanders need to conquer the town, the province, country and then Africa. Those who do not see that as a possibility do not deserve to associate with the ambitious club. The vision must be set to be the standard of the game in the country and continent. The leadership should be working on bettering the image of TP Mazembe as a brand of African football.
Bosso plan to climb the ladder this season with new signings, Hillary Madzivanyika, Douglas Sibanda and Njabulo Ncube who played last weekend. Sibanda stamped his authority in the defensive midfield role winning a number of balls with Njabulo justifying his presence by scoring two goals. Madzivanyika failed to live to the pre-match billing but coaches know he can deliver, hence the confidence to sign him.
The worrying fact for now besides the Executive hiccups with a few issues and lack of results, is lack of popularity of the club on the ground as underlined by being voted the 6th popular team in Zimbabwe. As a brand, Highlanders falls short in all facets. Few things can be rectified but that lack of consistence by the followers and leadership get swept under the carpet when the coaches and players are not delivering.
The handicap of the followers, a trademark crippling tendency of ages, is the deserting behaviour when the team struggles and the throwing stones at glass windows and spanners into the works. The leverage of the misbehaviour is used by the leadership as an excuse to incur debt. It becomes a spring board not to deliver as the clubs finances which largely hinge on match day attendances dwindle and of course, it is a fact that sponsors follow the crowds.
At this point, Highlanders have missed out on the opportunity to take part in this year's NetOne Charity Shield after they failed to make it among the top four in the sms voting process. The credibility of the mechanism is immaterial but the picture is worth a thousand words and figures do not lie. NetOne also feel aggrieved as they banked on having Bosso and of course Dembare to attract interest, but a newcomer uses current figures to feel the temperature on the ground. The club could have garnered some cash in the charity match.
The competition features the four teams that garnered the most votes during the voting period in the last month. Monomotapa, CAPS United, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum will play in the semi-finals scheduled to begin at the weekend. It could be that their supporters are richer and can afford cellphones or airtime. It does not mean these teams have the potential and muscle to flex when push comes to shove, but if Bosso lead the pack, it means exactly that but that opportunity is lost.
The usual damage control will be to seek plan B, but why not get the basics right and have plan B as a back-up plan? This is given that the club seem to thrive on plan B perennial, often utilising plan C, that is in cases where there is a plan to start with. To many supporters, there is no strategy and the truth is that people will never know. I guess that is exactly the plan; that nobody know the absence of the plan.
Anyway, if you remember the figures, Monomotapa got 20 825 votes, CAPS United 16 013 votes, Chicken Inn 15 558 and FC Platinum had 11 585 votes. Those numbers combined easily make what could be a Highlanders support base despite a fair share of fans being in the diaspora. To be a little fair to Highlanders, their wide support base in the country could have made the Charity Cup worthwhile.
For a record, Dynamos who claim to be boycotting the event suffered the same voting apathy which must make Bosso feel secure and when Dynamos led the votes last Wednesday with Highlanders also in the top three, it seemed proper and orderly until something took a turn and bent things over.
Highlanders aggression is making it a desirable brand to associate with, to make it a winning team and to be a club of choice for both the neutrals and the converted, all stakeholders need to pull their socks. Those without socks will have to buy and then pull them. There is something wrong with the present picture, regardless of the reasons, and there is always something someone can do. If it is you, please honour up and act now.