Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Highlanders; The Technical Advisor

(Bosso Tshilamoya)
I joined the Highlanders Football Club technical team as Technical Advisor in 2001, and, compared to my predecessors, I was too young and had had too much success too early, and the whole deal became disastrous.

Amongst many memorable times, one of my greatest moments at the Club was a match against local city rivals, Amazulu Football Club. We beat Usuthu at Luveve 4-2 coming from 0-2 at half time, in one of Bosso’s best ever games.

During my short stay at Bosso as the TA, we won two trophies after we beat Dynamos twice within weeks of each other. 

It was a Dairiboard Charity Cup at Barbourfields Stadium and the Independence Cup at the National Sports Stadium of Harare.

I am very proud of the achievements of the development program that produced Honour Gombami and Malala among others. During my stay, Mkhokheli Dube and Gilbert Banda were fast maturing and it is fulfilling to see where they are now.

Johannes Ngodzo played his worst football then because he was a Highlanders and then a Railstars player while I was the coach there before he joined Bosso again. He had refused my attempts to keep him with the Sporo men.

In reuniting with him at Tshilamoya, the feeling of guilt hindered his game despite my assurances and encouragement. He could only get his touch back in years to come. 

The upcoming team of that time had potential to move mountains like the famous Liverpool. I proposed that we form a Division 2 football then to afford the youngsters competitive football on a weekly basis. It sounded ridiculous then, to have two Highlanders teams registered in different leagues, according to the team manager, Ernest Sibanda Maphepha. I am glad the system is in operation now.

Working with Kenedy Ndebele, Liqhwa Gama and Isaac Mlilo under the leadership of Mangwana Tshuma was a rewarding experience. There was never a single moment that salaries were not paid on time.

Professionalism was at its best, but the technical team did not measure up to the standards in terms of following the plans and schedules. Everyone was paid their friendly matches appearance fees at the stadium. For international matches, the payment was in cash and 3 days before the travel dates.

That was efficiency at its best. The support given by Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube and Onius Ndebele of Computon was encouraging. They assisted players with their personal needs in their personal capacities.

I had tremendous support and a great relationship with ‘abadala bempankeni’ (elders from the groove), the Board members. They were very encouraging and of course, humorous.

In a different world and at a different time I could have served Bosso in a telling way. I have a conviction that I could have won Africa Champions League with that team and management. I really do. With Captain Fantastic, Thulani Biya Ncube, the first player ever to captain the club team, Under 23 national team and the senior national at the same, the leadership on and off the field strengthened the personal playing attributes of everyone in the team and the dressing room.

I still harbor the ambitions to do so. Time will tell and that is a story for another day.

I have no regrets at all and I learned quite a lot very fast. There was no boring moment and the camping was always a comedy show. The spirit was very good and the unity amazing. Siza 'Nkinko' Khoza always kept everyone in stitches at camp. There were strong characters like Richard Dabuka Express Choruma, Blessing MaGuma Guma Gumiso, Charles Chief Chilufya.

Who can forget Eddie Dube, Melody Nkalakatha Wafawanaka, Gift Thebe Junior, Britto Gwere and Tapuwa Kapini amongst others?

Having a Brazilian mentality of periodisation and sticking to the book at all times, trying to influence a local process purely based on playing experience, was very uncomfortable with our own established set up. 

I compromised on my principles and began to see my appointment as a long-term strategy for the club. And how wrong I was. It lasted 6 months.

My perfectionist attitude did not help much and my high expectations of the Highlanders set-up was very unrealistic. More often than not, success gives the impression that there is progress, but for me success and progress are different, and I was looking forward to getting both simultaneously.

Highlanders won several titles and a few attempts in the African Champions’ League before my arrival at the club. I had watched the latest botched attempt against Cameroon’s Sable de Batiethat was played at the Barbourfields Stadium.

I watched with a lot of interest and analysed it as much as possible and passed my thoughts to the technical team. From that match, I knew it would not be easy to change the fortunes of the team overnight. Exactly 12 months later, I was appointed Technical Advisor and the story was the same. 

As before, this was a home-brewed disaster, many people crossing the bridge before we got to the river. There is no substitute for proper preparation.

The greed of taking the glory of leading the team to Canaan was the war between the technical department, which I was supposed to lead, and the Executive Committee led by late Retired Colonel James Mangwana Tshuma.

The two of us led our camps that had underlying currents, as both our second-in-command did not tango well with each other. In the technical team, the problem was magnified by the fact that Rush needed to take my advice, but he was solely responsible for the team performance and results and had the final say. He made it clear I understood that.

I had acquired a high-level Advanced Diploma in Brazilian Football, of which Professors Carlos Alberto Pereira and Julio Cesar Leal were some of the lecturers. It is not an Advanced Diploma for nothing, and it is not a chance that the Brazilians have won the FIFA World Cup a record six times, and every other football competition in this world.

Other prominent lecturers in that course included Professors Neto Esphezim, Paipfer Lula, Alberto Lancetta and Sebastiao Araujo who wrote many books and played alongside Pele and Mario Zagallo in the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

I really enjoyed a great deal in all the road shows, and the full stadia everywhere we played. I had influence and leadership at promoting Railstars Football Club from the Division One with Barry Daka in 1997 and those moments brought so much joy and satisfaction. 

In between, I formed a Division Two football academy KFA after purchasing Joseph James' Thorngrove status. In 38 matches, we scored over 100 goals and amassed over 100 points but Olivine won the promotion. That Academy produced Farai Zidane Mujokoro.

At the end of my tenure, I was physically and mentally drained and Delma Lupepe asked to assist Jerry Mafripa (MHSRIP) but I could not take up the offer. Lupepe always wanted me to work with Charles Mhlauri at Amazulu before I joined Bosso, but his management team did not play ball and I do not regret I chose Mantengwane.

Do people still sing Mantengwane?