JOHANNESBURG. — Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama says the club learnt a lesson from their ill-fated campaign in the Absa Premiership in 2016/17.
Highlands, who have ageless Zimbabwean goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini on their books, were promoted to the topflight two years ago but, after overhauling their squad, suffered an immediate relegation.
However, the Lions of the North responded in style by winning the National First Division title by 19 points last term to book a return to the elite tier. Da Gama says this time the club will not discard the bulk of the side that gained promotion.
“We tried to pay tribute to the players that brought us where we are today,” Da Gama said.
“Every player that played more than five games, he is in the squad, he’s got a PSL contract. So we had to start there. “Secondly, we had to bring a mixture of players; youth, hunger and experience. To bring in the experienced players is a bit of a challenge as we learnt last time when Highlands Park was here (in the PSL).”
Da Gama believes new defensive signing Bevan Fransman will add vital experience to the team.
“Sometimes you don’t bring the best players, but the right player. I think in a player like Bevan Fransman we brought the right player,” he says of the former Maritzburg United captain.
“The good thing is he was not brought because of money. He could have still had a contract with Maritzburg United and a lot of teams wanted him. But because he wanted to be at his home in Centurion we were very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time.
“We want to come to the PSL and respect the league, and the second thing is to be as competitive as we can.” — Kick-Off.