BONGANI Mafu was unveiled as Highlanders head coach yesterday as the Bulawayo giants moved in to end weeks of speculation on who would succeed Zambian Kelvin Kaindu as the substantive gaffer. Mafu was presented to the media at the Highlanders clubhouse in the afternoon by three members of the executive — chairman Peter Dube, secretary Andrew Tapela, committee member Charles Sibanda — and chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede.\r\n\r\nClub boss Dube said the absence of treasurer Jerry Sibanda and Harare-based vice-chairman Mgcini Mpofu did not mean they were in disagreement with the decision to engage the youthful Mafu.\r\n\r\n“They are not here because they are tied up elsewhere,” said Dube.\r\n\r\nDube said they had settled for Mafu after taking into consideration a number of factors.\r\n\r\nIt also emerged that Mafu had beaten such strong candidates like Mark Harrison of South Africa and Scotsman Desmond Bulpin, who was at one stage the leading candidate before Bosso considered that he could be too expensive for them against a background of a cut in the club’s sponsorship package by BancABC owing to the tough operating environment in the local banking sector.\r\n\r\nThe Highlanders chairman said Mafu’s predecessor Kaindu had quit the club because positive results were not forthcoming and was replaced by his deputy Mark Mathe.\r\n\r\nWith the club still struggling they roped in veteran Cosmas “Tsano’’ Zulu because of his appreciation of the club’s culture and history to try and stem the tide.\r\n\r\nKaindu’s second half performance yielded a 33,3 percent success rate as did Mathe with his six games. Highlanders led the Castle Lager Premiership standings at the halfway mark but collapsed spectacularly after the departure of Milton Ncube and Kuda Mahachi and their replacements, Tapiwa Dephistara and Njabulo Ncube, failed to fit in their shoes.\r\n\r\nThe Bulawayo giants eventually finished fifth behind Dynamos, ZPC Kariba, CAPS United and FC Platinum, a poor return by Bosso’s lofty standards.\r\n\r\nDube said the Bosso coaching job had attracted a lot of interest.\r\n\r\n“We must have had 12 people who made submissions, others phoned. Three were from Europe, one Brazilian, one from South Africa and the rest were locals from both the region and as far as Harare. We decided to delay the process of engaging the coach because it was not an opportune time to do so while we were still confident we could do better.”\r\nDube also reckoned that it would have been disrespectful of Mathe and Zulu if they were to see coaches being interviewed while they were busy trying to grind results.\r\n\r\nThe Highlanders boss said Mafu exhibited confidence and ambition to restore Bosso’s glory.\r\n\r\n“We present to you formally and officially, the new man. We have made all considerations and interests of the club by settling for Mafu, who is a highly qualified coach, young enough to generate interest and ambition to succeed.\r\n\r\n“He shares the ambition of the club that it has to look at its own junior policy and we believe he fits the bill,” said Dube.\r\n\r\nDube also said Highlanders had noted that Mafu had a good grounding in humanities and had worked with youngsters all his working life. His exposure to high standards in Europe after coaching in Botswana and Zimbabwe had also worked in his favour.\r\n\r\nMafu said he appreciated the pressure that comes with coaching a club like Highlanders. He said it was a challenge to coach a team supported by his family and his friends that he was looking forward to the job.\r\n\r\n“The other clubs are going to struggle to beat me,” declared Mafu, who is an Arsenal fan but vowed that he would not like\r\nFrom Page 14\r\nHighlanders to play like the Londoners.\r\n\r\n“They play brilliant football with no goals at the end so I would not want that,” said Mafu.\r\n\r\nMafu said his first allegiance would be to Highlanders and would not leave for further education when the team is in dire need of his services.\r\n\r\nMafu holds an advanced coaching diploma from Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association, a Germany International Coaching Certficate that puts him at instructors’ level and an UEFA B licence.\r\n\r\nHe has had attachments at St Denis in the Reunion and AC Milan in Italy apart from coaching in the UK.\r\n\r\nOne of the reasons for the fallout between Kaindu and the Bosso fans stemmed from the fact that the Zambian’s tenure was affected by his frequent trips outside the country at times when he was expected to be hunting for talent or correcting the team’s flaws.\r\n\r\nThis, the Bosso family felt affected the rhythm of his team and saw cracks open up when Highlanders resoundingly beat CAPS United 4-0 in his absence in easily their best performance of the 2014 season.\r\n\r\nClub secretary Tapela said Mafu would initially be in charge for a year and his contract was renewable.\r\n\r\nFor now Mafu said he would meet his predecessors and find the way forward.\r\n\r\nA big challenge would be to identify players who could fit into the Highlanders football culture which has been in the past punctuated by effective and fast wing play and creativity in midfield.