Tapuwa Kapini gives coach Owen da Gama praise after Highlands Park wins automatic promotion
Posted: 9 April 2018 Time: 09:30
Highlands Park goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini has explained how coach Owen da Gama inspired players who were low in confidence early in the season.
Highlands, who were relegated from the PSL last term, secured automatic promotion with an emphatic 5-1 victory over University of Pretoria at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday, but they did not have an ideal start to the campaign. The Lions of the North won promotion with four matches to spare.
They won their first two matches of the campaign against Jomo Cosmos and Royal Eagles, but that was followed by three straight defeats to Tuks, Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila and Mbombela United. That’s when Da Gama, who had parted ways with SAFA after serving as a Bafana Bafana assistant coach and as head coach of the Under-23s, was roped in to take over from Thierry Mulonzo.
Da Gama is yet to lose a match since taking over and deservedly won promotion on Saturday.
“When coach Owen came in, we had lost three games in a row. We did not believe in ourselves as players, but with coach Owen it was just unbelievable. We started to believe in ourselves, we started to have confidence and we worked hard. We just went for the kill, whether we were away or at home. It’s been amazing work from the technical department,” the former Platinum Stars and AmaZulu shot-stopper tells KickOff.com.
“He gave confidence to everyone, whether you are playing or not playing. He makes you feel part of Highlands Park. If we win and you were not part of the team, he will tell you that you are the reason we won. There were no egos in the team, there were no divisions, and we were professional. He brings unity.”
Kapini says the experience Da Gama gained working with the national team came in handy for the side. Da Gama went to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations with Bafana and was at the 2016 Rio Olympics with the U-23s.
“He grew in terms of his knowledge in football. He brought that experience he had in the national team and from the Olympics. It was just unbelievable,” the Zimbabwean goalkeeper says.