A SQUAD of 18 Highlanders players yesterday left Bulawayo for Entokozweni Safaris in Inyathi owned by former national cricket team captain Heath Streak, for a seven-day intensive pre-season training camp.
The squad included new signings Joel “Josta” Ngodzo, Welcome Ndiweni, Khumbulani Banda, Valentine Ndaba and goalkeeper Njabulo “Popo” Nyoni.
Goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, rumoured to be eyeing a move to Madinda Ndlovu-coached Township Rollers in Botswana pitched up at the Highlanders’ offices and had lengthy discussions with goalkeepers’ coach Peter “Oxo” Nkomo and the club’s executive committee member Charles “Six-One” Moyo, but did not travel with the team.
Sibanda then dispelled speculation that he was on his way to Botswana and said he would be joining the rest of the team in Inyathi today.
“It is not true, I am not going anywhere. I am going to Inyathi tomorrow (today),” the former Warriors’ shot-stopper said.
Confirming the training camp earlier in the day, Highlanders treasurer Jerry Sibanda said they had not heard from Sibanda, who had not been training with the club since they started their pre-season physical training at St Columbas’ High School in Makokoba.
“The boys will be leaving for Inyathi at 12pm with one goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni. We agreed with Ariel on some terms, but he had asked to go and do some personal business and we have not heard from him. A squad of 18 players is going for the pre-season training camp save for those players that are in South Africa,” Sibanda said yesterday morning.
The players will be expected back in Bulawayo on Sunday evening.
Sibanda said they were certain of retaining the services of goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya and midfielders Milton Ncube and Peter “Rio” Moyo and were close to sealing a deal with another FC Platinum player Charles Sibanda, with the Warriors in South Africa.
“We held positive discussions with Charles and as soon as he arrives from South Africa, I am sure we will be signing him,” Sibanda said.
From the juniors’ quota, only Under-20 Young Warriors striker Mgcini Sibanda was part of the squad that travelled to Inyathi, while the other four juniors will be joining the rest of the team after head coach Kelvin Kaindu arrives next week.
Sibanda said they were due for discussions with Canadian First Mobile Sports Academy striker Phillippe Barriault and goalkeeper Jean-Felix Lemieux last night and the two would not be joining the training camp in Inyathi. Senior players that are part of the camp include skipper Innocent Mapuranga, Erick Mudzingwa, Bruce Kangwa, Simon Munawa and Mthulisi Maphosa.
Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu, Hillary Madzivanyika, Knox Mutizwa, Douglas Sibanda, Ozias Zibande, Gabriel Nyoni and returnée Cleopas “Balotelli” Dube were also part of the travelling team. Lawson Nkomo, Bhekimpilo “Barca” Ncube and Bruce Tshuma have been shown the door.
Assistant coach Mark Mathe, Nkomo and Bekithemba “Super” Ndlovu, who will be with the team until Kaindu returns, will take charge of the camp. Bosso left with new fitness trainer Majaha Ndlovu, team doctor Loyal Nyika, welfare manager Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo, kit manager Vezigama Dlodlo and executive committee member Moyo.
N Nyoni, I Mapuranga, D Ndlovu, E Mudzingwa, K Banda, B Kangwa, S Munawa, H Madzivanyika, J Ngodzo, V Ndaba, K Mutizwa, M Maphosa, D Sibanda, W Ndiweni, G Nyoni, C Dube, M Sibanda, O Zibande.