Triumphant Highlands want to break records
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