It was a painful experience for Mahalapye side BR Highlanders the last time they were in the Premier League. That was during the 2012/13 season. From the onset, the Premier League stage proved to be too big for them, and even former Miscellaneous coach Teenage Mpote, who was roped in late to turn the tide, couldn’t do much for BR Highlanders.
The battering they got from their opponents proved to be too much and within nine months they were back in the dusty First Division grounds. At the time, some football commentators said the team deserved the baptism of fire because they were promoted to the elite through the back door. This was after Security Systems and Police XI were de-registered for failing to pay their annual membership fees. After a season in the lower ranks, BR Highlanders have yet another chance to do battle with some of the country’s football heavyweights. There is no doubt that this time around the team deserved promotion as they outwitted Rolling Boys in a crucial promotional play-off.
It seems they did the right thing in appointing veteran Zimbabwean tactician, Paul Moyo as head coach. During their game against Rolling Boys, it was Moyo’s tactical acumen that enabled the Botswana Railways sponsored side to snatch a win. As BR Highlanders prepare for the tough season ahead, the Zimbabwean tactician has no doubts that he will have to dig deeper to withstand competition from the big boys and survive in the elite league. Though his team has not signed any big name players during the transfer window, Moyo believes he has what it takes to maintain BR Highlanders’ position in the Premier League.
“We need to be realistic; we cannot say we’ll win the championship. What we need to do is to come up with a strategy that will keep us in the Premier League come end of season. It’s going to be tough but we need to be patient. In the game of football you win some and lose some, but I can assure you that we’re going to compete,” said Moyo.
While he admits that he hasn’t signed any big name players, Moyo is confident that his new crop of young players will send shockwaves throughout the league.
“We are not going to sign many players. I think the team that won us promotion has potential. We only need to build-up their confidence. They need to believe in themselves and just enjoy the game,” he added.
Moyo is well known for his eagle eye in identifying rare talent, as evidenced during his time with Notwane and TAFIC. Moyo challenged the community of Mahalapye to rally behind the team in the upcoming season.
“If we sell ourselves by playing attractive football, I have no doubt that the support will come. Though we’ll not be playing at home in Mahalapye, there is a need for the community to follow our progress,” said the coach.
BR Highlanders chairman, Mokhurutshe Mokhurutshe said the team has learnt from the mistakes it made during its debut in the Premier League. He said they now have a plan that will enable them to withstand the pressure and survive in the elite league.
“This time around we’re not building a new team, we are just adding on what we have. We don’t want to blow our own trumpet but we’ll definitely be amongst the teams in the topflight next season. We have also brought in Tebogo Mokute as second assistant so that we have enough brains in the technical team,” said Mokhurutshe.
The BR Highlanders boss also revealed that they will play their home games in Serowe where they hope to get a few sympathizers to support them.
“We’re working on a plan to improve our ground so that we can play at home during the second round,” he said.
BR Highlanders start their campaign in the Premier League with a tricky date away to FC Satmos next weekend.
BR Highlanders’ five opening games
August 9- vs-FC Satmos (Selebi-Phikwe Sports Complex)
August 16- vs-Gaborone United (Serowe Sports Complex)
August 23- vs-Extension Gunners (Serowe Sports Complex)
August 30- vs-Township Rollers (Serowe Sports Complex)
September 7-v-s Notwane (SSKB Stadium)