FAR from the hustle and bustle of the city, a squad of 21 Highlanders players is deep in the jungle of Entokozweni Safaris Camp in Inyathi, about 80km from Bulawayo. The hideout is 60km on the Bulawayo-Harare Road and about 20km into a thicket of bushes that surrounds the camp at former national cricket team captain Heath Streak’s farm.
The squad left Bulawayo last Monday and has been under-going rigorous training under Bosso’s new fitness trainer Majaha Ndlovu and is expected back in town this afternoon to get the ball rolling with head coach Kelvin Kaindu, who is expected in the country this week from the United Kingdom.
Two of the players that are in camp are the Canandians striker Phillippe Barriault and goalkeeper Jean-Felix Lemieux from First Mobile Sports Academy. The two are on attachment with Bosso for six months and hope to be signed for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) if they impress the technical team. Bosso players on Friday made a solemn promise to their multitude of fans in the country that the 2014 season belongs to them and they are going to win the league.
“I think the boys are enjoying what they are doing here. They are giving me 200%. Whatever I am showing them, they are willing to show the country that this time they are going to take the league. As for the Canandians, it was hard at first, the weather, because where they are coming is cold, but they enjoying everything.” Ndlovu said.
On Friday, the players and the rest of the technical team in camp took a short break and were treated to a full goat slaughtered by Highlanders board member Luke Mnkandla, who has a farm in the neighbourhood and drinks by the local business people in Bubi.
The team met with the local leadership that included the member of the House of Assembly for Bubi Clifford Sibanda, Ward 23 councillor Panny Irene Khupe, ZRP Officer-In-Charge for Inyathi Chief Inspector Dickson Sibanda, acting district administrator Tapiwa Ziboyiboyi and council chief executive officer Partson Mlilo.
Highlanders came up with “The Bubi Declaration” instigated by board chairman Mgcini Nkolomi in which they promised that they will be bagging the 2014 PSL silverware.
“To the local leadership, we would like to express our gratitude for the honour. We need to come up with a Bubi Declaration. As chairman of the board, I have been hurting for the past two seasons. The minimum requirement for us is to win the league this year. I hope we deliver on the Bubi Declaration. If we don’t, the officer-in-charge is here, he should put us behind bars for 48 hours. Let this year be our year,” Nkolomi said.
Sibanda had this to say: “We are so excited to have Highlanders here. People in this area are Highlanders followers through radio and newspapers. It is something good to have them here where the people love them. We value them so much and hope that they make us proud this year.”
Assistant coach Mark Mathe said Entokozweni has been good for the boys for bonding.
“Basically why we chose this place is so that we have maximum concentration and peace and it is working. The players are adapting and adjusting physically because this is biased towards the conditioning of the players. It is just physical with a bit of technique. It has been excellent and discipline has been key.
“The boys are disciplined and taking instructions in terms of time keeping and everything. We want to be measured by targets this year,” Mathe said.
Mnkandla and Highlanders welfare manager Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo paid tribute to the Bubi community for the positive welcome they gave to Highlanders.