HIGHLANDERS head coach Bongani Mafu says he will not be giving Joel “Josta” Ngodzo any preferential treatment as the stocky midfielder is not fit and he will have to shape up or ship out.
Mafu was speaking at a Highlanders physical training session at Hillside Dams, Bulawayo, on Tuesday, which the 25-year-old talented midfielder did not attend.
“He (Ngodzo) has come to training before and I have given him a game, but he is not fit at all,” the coach said.
“He is not going to get preferential treatment. I am just going to give him time to get in shape because he has unbelievable talent. He is free to train with us, but he is seriously out of shape.”
Ngodzo, who has put on some weight, is one of several players that the Bulawayo giants had fallen out of favour with. He risked not having his contract renewed. Mafu came in and asked to look at all the players from last year’s squad.
If Ngodzo makes it, he has a short time to shape up as the Premier Soccer League has February 13 as deadline for clubs to register players. The Zifa transfer window period closes a month later on March 25.
When he retraced his steps to his boyhood club last year with Charles Sibanda and Welcome Ndiweni from FC Platinum, Ngodzo penned a one-year contract with Highlanders ending on December 31 2014.
But before he could kick a ball last year, Ngodzo was reportedly put on a strict diet to lose weight by then Bosso gaffer Kelvin Kaindu.
He did not play in a number of matches for the Bulawayo giants and only came in from the bench to feature extensively at the end of the season.
Ngodzo together with Sibanda were given written warning by Highlanders last September following incidents of indiscipline that rocked the club’s camp in Harare prior to the Pick n Pay Challenge Cup match that they eventually lost 1-4 to Dynamos.
In October 2014, Ngodzo was arrested at Hartsfield Rugby Ground for driving without a licence after a Highlanders match which he was not part of, but was later released.
Meanwhile, Mafu said as Highlanders head coach, he would like to be very much involved in the junior teams, where he hoped to identify excelling young players for promotion into the senior team.
Mafu had been in England prior to joining Bosso. He was dealing with youth teams. He holds a Uefa B Licence.
“I am looking at reviving the youth system at Highlanders,” he said.
“I am going to be hands-on on junior teams. We cannot continue to be looking for players elsewhere when we can elevate our own.”