Tri­umphant High­lands want to break records

African Times - - Sport - MASHUDU SADIKE

HIGH­LANDS Park put a dis­ap­point­ing de­but per­for­mance in the 2016/2017’s Absa Premier Soccer League sea­son be­hind them to win­ning the Na­tional First Divi­sion(NFD) ti­tle in style this sea­son.

The Lions of the North an­ni­hi­lated Pre­to­ria Univer­sity 5-1 at Makhu­long sta­dium last Saturday to ce­ment their stay at the top of the NFD stand­ings.

High­lands, who have a 21-match un­beaten streak see them­selves claim­ing the ti­tle and gain­ing au­to­matic pro­mo­tion to the PSL with four games to go.

They are on 59 points with a 45-goal dif­fer­ence, 15 points clear of sec­ond placed Black Leop­ards who are on 44 points.

Larry Brook­stone, co-chair­man and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor at the club says that they are not go­ing to rest on their lau­rels as they would want to be known as the best team in the NFD and break records.

“There are records to be bro­ken. We have bro­ken some but there are oth­ers to break. We are on 59 points and the record is 62 points af­ter 30 games. We have four games to beat that record. Our goal dif­fer­ence (45) is more than that of the next team scored,” said Brook­stone.

Brook­stone be­lieves that his club will do things dif­fer­ently this time go­ing back into top-flight foot­ball. “I’m not mak­ing ex­cuses, we were not good enough last sea­son, that’s the truth of the mat­ter.

“This time we have to be good enough.

“We had not changed our bud­get com­ing down from the PSL to the NFD. We treated it like a Premier League team and we are go­ing to con­tinue that way next sea­son.

“We are keep­ing our spon­sors and our bud­get is not go­ing to change much go­ing into the PSL,” he said.

He said that they had learnt their les­son and were ready for the PSL this time around as there were a few plans on the ta­ble.

“We have iden­ti­fied a few play­ers to beef up our side go­ing into next sea­son and hope­fully we can at­tract them this time around be­cause they now know we are in the PSL.

“We have three names so far, but it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to dis­cuss it now be­cause we have not con­sulted their teams yet,” said the chair­man, who has gone from the PSL and the NFD three times with dif­fer­ent teams.

Brook­stone says that they are clear about the play­ers they want and that they are en­gag­ing with two of the three play­ers al­ready.

“We are are a long way down the road with two of the three gen­tle­men we are propos­ing. So we need to make sure we close those deals,” he said.

High­lands kept the bulk of the play­ers from the PSL to the NFD in­clud­ing cap­tain and long­stand­ing goal­keeper at the club, Zim­bab­wean Ta­puwa Kap­ini, who be­lieves go­ing for­ward and do­ing well in the PSL would be up to ev­ery­body con­cerned from the di­rec­tors to the ball boys.

“This is Amaz­ing! The lads put in a lot of hard work and the coaches were just awe­some to work with. The di­rec­tors be­lieve in us.

“It’s all up to ev­ery­one who is part of High­lands park to make sure we are go­ing to work more harder and try be in the top eight in the Pre­mier­ship,” said Kap­ini.

Brook­stone con­tin­ued to say that there is al­ways a sen­ti­ment that play­ers that get pro­moted with the team stay with them.

“Some play­ers came with us from the ABC Mot­sepe league. We took them on a jour­ney. Some have risen and some have fallen. It’s un­for­tu­nate but it wasn’t be­cause we kicked them out, it was based on their per­for­mance,”said the chair­man.

High­lands head coach Owen Da Gama, who em­pha­sised that ab­so­lute fo­cus kept them on the 21 games un­beaten streak, mir­rored Brook­stone’s com­ments.

“Foot­ball is per­for­mance based and as long as a player per­forms he will re­main part of our fu­ture,”said Da Gama. - Muku­rukuru Me­dia

High­lands Park head coach Owen Da Gama gives his team a pep talk. Picture: Den­vor de Wee / Vis­ual Buzz SA

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