THE melancholy that Highlanders were subjected to from June came to an end on Tuesday when giant energy company Sakunda Holdings unveiled a game-changing multi-million dollar sponsorship deal for the club.

Sakunda gave the country’s giants Highlanders and Dynamos a kiss of life, when it announced a combined US$5.3 million sponsorship deal, which will be paid in local currency, over the next three years. So sweet is the deal that Highlanders’ captain Ariel Sibanda believes it has turned Bosso into a club of choice for many talented local footballers that will want to enjoy a slice of the cake.



Highlanders will get US$450 000 to be channeled to salaries and allowances, as well as US$60 000 for signing-on fees per season for three years.

They will also receive US$60 000 for administrative purposes every season. There will be a US$200 000 bonus for winning the league title, with a further US$150 000 set aside for qualification to the Caf Champions League.

The massive financial backing gives the Highlanders’ executive time to breath, strategise and focus on securing other partnerships that might finally lead the club to self-sustenance.

Sakunda, which also donated three houses to honour contributions made to local football by legends, the late George “Mastermind” Shaya, Madinda “Khathazile” Ndlovu and Moses “Razorman” Chunga, capped the fine Tuesday night’s proceedings by giving top range cars to Highlanders and Dynamos’ coaches as well as their captains.

The giant energy company will buy a house worth US$120 000 for Shaya’s family, while Ndlovu and Chunga’s homes will each cost US$90 000. Highlanders and Dynamos’ coaches Mandla Mpofu and Tonderai Ndiraya proudly drive the latest Ford Everest vehicles, while Bosso skipper Sibanda and his DeMbare counterpart Patson Jaure are “rolling” in sleek Ford Rangers.

News crew caught up with a joyful Sibanda yesterday, who expressed gratitude to Sakunda for saving Bosso from dire financial straits.

The experienced goalkeeper arrived late for the interview, saying he had to make lots of stops along the way, as people admired his ride. “I’m sorry for getting here late, you know I left home early, but I met a number of people who stopped me just marveling at the new ride,” Sibanda said as he disembarked from the double cab. The seats are still covered in plastic and the goalie is still in awe.

“This is a great gift, a huge gift. Few people can do that (give away a car). I think it’s (getting the car) also a boost going into the new season and I’m sure it’s motivation to the young guys who will want to drive it sometime,” Sibanda said.

Mangoye or Cat, as his teammates call him, thought Sakunda director Kuda Tagwirei was joking when he said they will get cars.

“It was a real surprise when the cars were delivered. I knew that we were going for the sponsorship unveiling, but never thought I’d end up driving back home. It was at the end of his address that Mr Tagwirei said the coaches and captains will get cars and I thought he was joking or maybe they’ll be delivered weeks or months later. It was after I had seen the car that it came to reality that some people really mean their words,” Sibanda said.

When he took delivery of the car, it had just clocked 10km. Sibanda, who has previously owned two BMW X5s, a Nissan Hardbody double cab and a Toyota Altezza, drove from Harare with his vice-captains Peter Muduhwa and Nqobizitha Masuku. He understands that driving the Ford Ranger comes with great responsibility.

“I appreciate Sakunda for taking care of us during this time of Covid-19. Few people are able to do that.

“I’m really motivated right now. I know, this comes with great responsibility and also a lot of pressure. Now we have to deliver, we’ve got what we want and now it’s up to us as players to deliver because Sakunda has come through. At least they’ve played the first part, now we have to concentrate on our football,” Sibanda said.

He reflected on the challenges that the club faced before news filtered that “something big” was coming. Bosso players went for three months without pay and at some point they threatened not to fulfill a Chibuku Super Cup fixture because of outstanding allowances.

The players also wanted a salary raise. Out of frustration, Sibanda took to social media to announce his departure from the club in August. Prior to yesterday, Sibanda had never commented about that August 16 Facebook post.

“I don’t know what happened then, but it was an issue of mixed emotions. I didn’t write any letter to the club saying I’m leaving, but it’s something we talked about privately with the club and understood each other. It’s water under the bridge,” he said.

“Personally, we had had a terrible three months because when I look at the boys, who are paying rent, it was very difficult for them. After the deal with Sakunda, it has eased our nerves. Right now we have to focus on winning games and see where it will take us.”

He is geared to lead Highlanders’ attempt to challenge for the league title and having been with the senior team since 2009, Sibanda is keen for a championship medal. He said going for the championship will not be easy and will require hard work.

“I’m confident we can fight for the title, but it all comes with hard work, focus, concentration and discipline. If we do the right things at the right time, I’m sure we will win games. We’ll take it game by game and see how it goes. Mind you, having money doesn’t mean you win things, but it’s just motivation to keep going.

“It won’t be an easy road as people will be saying Highlanders now have money, so when they face us, all they want is to impress so that they join Highlanders next season. This means we have to work even harder and labour for results.

“What we can’t run away from is that from now going forward Highlanders are back to being a team of choice,” said Sibanda

Source – Herald