THE issue of foreign players signed by Castle Lager Premier Soccer League club Highlanders at the start of the season took centre-stage at the club’s extraordinary general meeting on Sunday, with members questioning why they were being retained on full salary yet they were not playing.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
One of the players, Manuel Esono Obiang Buale from the Equatorial Guinea, had his contract terminated by mutual consent, with Highlanders’ acting chairman, Modern Ngwenya telling the club members on Sunday that the brawny striker, who could not obtain his work permit, had falsified information to the club.
The other two foreigners are Congolese Yves Ebabali (27) and Tambwe Kalunga (28), who have only played cameo roles and made brief appearances against lowly-placed clubs in the Premiership.
Responding to the acting chairman’s progress report on Sunday, club member, Brian Moyo tasked Ngwenya to find out from head coach Erol Akbay why the foreign players had not been playing when they are on full salary at the expense of the club’s developmental players, who could be promoted to the senior team.
“May you tell (Erol) Akbay that the club is not going to be able to pay players that are on holiday. The club does not have that money. We would rather have those slots filled by our Under-19 players,” Moyo said, to applause by the other members at the meeting attended by less than 100 members.
Other members were of the feeling that some of the players who had been recruited by the club were imposed on the coaches by some members of the executive committee, to which Ngwenya was at pains to respond to, reacting emotionally to the accusations.
“These players came to Akbay on their own and as the executive committee, we stand guided by the coaches who came up with their wish list. If, as a house, you want to come up with a policy that we don’t buy players from outside, then it is up to you. But the buck stops with Akbay. We have asked him why they are not playing and he said they will be playing in the second half of the season,” Ngwenya said.
He revealed that the foreign players had not received their signing-on fees, which was also not received well by another member, Allen Mpofu.
“You make another very serious revelation. If we have not paid their signing-on fees, that is going to be a big problem for us,” Mpofu said.
Highlanders treasurer, Donald Ndebele revealed that the club was sitting on a debt of $816 606, up from $713 215 last year.