BY FORTUNE MBELE
WHEN Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh arrived in the country in September to take up the vacant job at Highlanders, he evoked mixed feelings from a number of football stakeholders including journalists with some quarters questioning his coaching credentials.
The Bulawayo giants had to make a public announcement that their new coach was a holder of a Uefa A Licence.
However, since then he has let his results do the talking after transforming Bosso from a goal shy side terribly short of confidence into a formidable, side which is now capable of beating any team in the topflight league.
In De Jongh’s first match incharge on September 29, Highlanders knocked Dynamos out of the Chibuku Super Cup in the first round at Rufaro Stadium, courtesy of a solitary goal by Prince Dube.
It was the beginning of a brilliant run of good form for Bosso, who have gone for eight matches without defeat, winning four league matches and playing two draws. The run also included wins over giants Dynamos and FC Platinum in the Chibuku Super Cup.
While some have attributed the team’s success to the foundation laid by former coach Madinda Ndlovu, De Jongh has certainly played a significant role in transforming Bosso’s fortunes from relegation contenders to just three points away from the top four.
But what really has been the secret to De Jongh’s early success?
“I do regular one-on-one meetings with the players and I also talk to them about positions,” De Jongh revealed.
“People think I am a disciplinarian but discipline is not just everything. Discipline is not only when you possess the ball but when you lose it and how you focus at training.”
De Jongh added: “The whole club must be disciplined, the chairman must be disciplined, the treasurer must be disciplined including the media guy and everyone else. That must be the philosophy of the club. That is the way how things are done in Europe and I think we are on the right direction.”
The Dutchman said one other thing that he is particular about is keeping his players in shape, which means regularly monitoring their weight.
“One of my rules is; because I have many rules, is that every player once in while has their weight checked to see that the players are in good shape. I make them train hard and make sure the players are in good shape. But there are some players that are not in good shape but I am not going to give you names. You see as far as I am concerned the scale does not lie,” De Jongh said.
One player, who has had disciplinary problems in the past due to his errant behavior off the pitch is midfielder Denzel Khumalo.
After being snubbed by the erstwhile coaches because of his off field controversy, Khumalo has received a new lease of life under the Dutchman and he has repaid the faith entrusted in him by producing some brilliant performances.
He scored a gem of a goal against FC Platinum last Sunday and was also instrumental in the Bulawayo giants’ victory over Yadah on Thursday.
“There have been questions on why he has not been starting and my answer is very simple. “Denzel is one of the best players in my selection, he has two basic qualities; he can control the ball and shoot with both legs. He plays good positional football. He earlier came and asked me why he was not playing and I told him he was 3kgs heavier and he has lost that. He is now in a better shape,” he said.
De Jongh will be hoping to continue his impressive start as Bosso coach when he leads his charges against Harare giants Dynamos at Rufaro Stadium this afternoon.