For nine years, the Pretoria-based side had sung the same hymn without salvation. Barely a year later, the two former Highlanders players have had the last laugh, after their side gained promotion with two games to spare.
Early this week, Tendai Tanyanyiwa, the goalkeepers coach and striker Mpala shared their joy with The Zimbabwean.
“Up to now, it seems like a dream,” said Tanyanyiwa. “The thought of failing to make it did not cross my mind, after the First Division was amalgamated into one stream because it meant we had to do just one goal – ending at the top.” In most of the years that ended in tears for them, AmaTuks topped the league but lost out in the controversial play-offs system with winner between the Inland and Coastal streams.
His contract is up at the end of this month, but with head coach, Steve Barker seemingly interested in having it extended, he remained optimistic. The joy of promotion completes Tanyanyiwa’s football cycle, having gone through the agony of demotion with Black Aces back home about a decade ago.
Mpala, who recently impressed during trials in Vietnam, seemed sceptical about that move, following the promotion, also riding on Barker’s vow to fight to keep him in the team. “It is a life changing experience and I am looking forward to playing in the PSL, where there will be more space for me to expose my talent than in the NFD.”
“Tanyanyiwa is still young, but had a very sterling performance as our goalkeepers’ coach and this shows he has a very bright future,” said the coach. “Management has offered to invest in him by taking him to a coaching course in the next few months. Mpala is also an exceptional player who is strong, athletic and versatile. He played both upfront and as a centre back, doing well in both positions.”Post published in: Football