Luphahla: Master mind behind TelOne’s promotion

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Chipo Sabeta
Newly-promoted TelOne FC coach Joel Luphahla, is affirmative ahead of the new season following the promotion of his side — TelOne FC into the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League after winning the ZIFA Central Region Division One Championship.

The ex-Highlanders player renowned for his elegant displays in midfield during his playing days, joined TelOne FC at the beginning of the season amid player exodus at the Division One side.

However, the Wifi boys shrugged off stiff competition from seasoned campaigners, Whawha, Tongogara and ZPC Munyati throughout the 2019 campaign.

By half season, Luphahla had achieved his target while the final stretch of the campaign culminated in achieving the ultimate goal of promotion to the Premier League.

Luphahla also reaped the benefits of the changes he made to the squad as they aim for top flight football.

When it comes to football management the 40-year-old says he utilised years of experience as an assistant coach at top flight teams such as CAPS United and Tsholotsho where  he made a name for himself as one of the most talented coaches.

“I’m a very good observer and I had to check everything around myself. We made changes to the squad and maintained our style throughout the season. We didn’t want to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure.

“In this season, we tried to push the club in a different direction and tried looking for improvements in different parts of the club. I am grateful to the committed players.

“All the different attempts have a final destination — to try and win the games. We won the promotion and I believe our supporters are enjoying the way this team have changed.”

On Sunday, Tongogara needed a draw to be promoted, but TelOne FC won 1-0 to finish the season on 44 points and won the sole Premiership ticket. In the reverse fixture, the two teams drew 0-0.

It is attractive football philosophy that TelOne FC have been exhibiting throughout the season.

Luphahla’s men suffered just two defeats throughout the season.

Behind the scenes Luphahla sings the praises of his support staff, which features Brian Zingu and Bezel Samanyanga the latter he describes as the “engineer of many things”.

The group work closely together and the former Warriors forward uses his knowledge from a breadth of experiences to focus on cultivating and signing local talent in Midlands.

He was also humbled by the presence of TelOne managing director Chipo Mutasa last Sunday who came to support the team.

“My life is connected with football. I was a player, now a coach. I try to use all my experience in my job,” he said.

“Because I am working in Gweru this is the only reason why I favour local players in the Midlands province. It’s a youthful squad and I won’t be making many changes. It pay back for the resilience and commitment they showed me throughout the journey.

“My assistants Brian and Bezel played a crucial part and I want to acknowledge their input. The company-TelOne supported us and I was humbled by the presence of our managing director Chipo Mutasa,” Luphahla said.

“Plans for next season haven’t been discussed official but we are looking forward to purchase a few players and loan of players to add to the squad in readiness for the Premier League season. We have 26 players at the moment after loaning Tafadzwa Sibanda at Highlanders.

“The Premier league has recycled players and we want to bring fresh talent. I will give these boys a chance. We are also not on the level for bringing best players in the country,” he added.

TelOne FC become the second team to get promoted into the top flight league after Manica Diamond FC clinched the Eastern Region Division One title last week.

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