HomeSportFootballBOOZE, DRUGS. . . the scourge of Highlanders

BOOZE, DRUGS. . . the scourge of Highlanders


LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers early this month had no kind words for £16 million striker Mario Balotelli and left the eccentric forward out of the starting line-up in a 2-1 Premier League win against West Bromwich Albion.


The beef: The Italian was supposed to improve on his fitness and Rodgers’ words to Balotelli were: “My way or the highway.” But Balotelli was to be introduced in the second half of that game.

Highlanders’ midfielder Joel “Josta” Ngodzo faced the same predicament when he rejoined Bosso at the start of the season with departed coach Kelvin Kaindu reportedly putting him on strict diet to shed weight before he could kick a ball.

It took Ngodzo a while before he could make it to the Highlanders starting line-up upon his return to the football giants.

But what has been news and has been more worrying about the Highlanders players has been lack of discipline of late, which has bordered on alcohol and drug abuse with the latest being midfielder Mthulisi Maphosa, escaping a jail term and being sentenced to do community service by a Bulawayo magistrate after he pleaded guilty to assault.Mthulisi-Maphosa-etched-2

Maphosa bashed his girlfriend, her friend and an alleged boyfriend over allegations that the pair was leading his woman into prostitution before revealing in court that the girl (girlfriend’s friend) had slept with almost half of the Highlanders team.

Highlanders players have been reported to be known patrons of some popular liquor joints in the city and at times have been confronted at these spots by fans who are not pleased by the team’s performance. The fans argue that the players are being affected by alcohol abuse.

Some don’t even bother going back home after getting their salaries, according to a senior source at the club, with one top player alleged to have dumped his wife in preference for a lady who stays just next door to his place.

This source says a shocking player clear-out is in store in December when the season ends.

Just before the 0-4 drubbing by Caps United in Harare on Sunday, some players were reportedly spotted at a night spot frequented by prostitutes the previous night.

Highlanders’ chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede has admitted that there are cases of indiscipline that have been reported to the club by the team’s technical department and supporters.

“It is very worrying because it has serious ramifications on our sponsors and we have advised their handlers (coaches and welfare manager) to deal with it,” he said.

“They have reported such cases and if they recommend that so and so is unrepentant, we will deal with the cases. We will have players suspended and have their salaries docked.

“We are saying these players have to be professional in how they behave even outside the field of play. I know the players might need to celebrate or commiserate after a match but ‘keep yourself within limits.”

He said there was no way the welfare manager Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo could monitor the players day in day out as they also have a social life, but urged them to behave professionally in tandem with their jobs and statuses.

Gumede gave the recent example of striker Njabulo “Tshiki” Ncube who was suspended and had his salary docked with Charles Sibanda and Ngodzo being given written warnings following incidents of indiscipline at a hotel in Harare prior to Bosso’s 1-4 defeat to Dynamos in the TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup final.Tshiki-njabulo-etched

Some Highlanders players were also in the eye of a storm for binging on their way from Mutare in June after the 3-1 win over Buffaloes in a league match at Sakubva Stadium.

In the case of Maphosa, who has had numerous serious brushes with the law, Gumede said they had written to the player warning that his behaviour was becoming a cause for concern.

In 2011, Maphosa stabbed a soldier in Mpopoma and was arrested. He appeared in court charged with attempted murder, but the complainant opted for an out-of-court settlement. Last year he was involved in a fracas at Esibayeni night spot in Matshobana. He hit bouncers with a baton stick.

The Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) has advised players to stick to rules and regulations governing their conduct at their clubs saying the issued of indiscipline was on the rise in local football.
Paul Gundani, Fuz secretary-general, however, said the onus was also on the clubs to rehabilitate the players, calling for the engagement of psychologists in extreme cases.

“The position of the union is that we don’t condone indiscipline from players,” he said.

“Our advice is for players to follow the rules and regulations at their various clubs. Issues of indiscipline are now on the rise not only at Highlanders. It’s a situation that is prevailing in the football industry. Our major concern is how the players are assisted.”

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