Highlands coach Da Gama has no targets in mind for the end of the season
Highlands Park continued their bid for a top eight place with a 1-1 draw at Cape Town City on Tuesday‚ but coach Owen da Gama says he has no targets in mind for the end of the campaign.
Highlands are in eighth‚ two points head of Lamontville Golden Arrows with three games remaining – home to Polokwane City and Bloemfontein Celtic‚ and away at SuperSport United.
Da Gama says they did not set any targets at the start of the season‚ and says it was more about acclimatising to the league following their promotion from the National First ~Division the year before.
“Our sights were never not to be relegated‚ to be in the top eight or finish as high as possible‚” Da Gama says.
“We always said we want to be as competitive as possible in this league and that will determine where we end up.
“Once you get that competitive edge in your team‚ it is how you build the foundations of success because once you can compete‚ anything is possible. I believe that next season this will be a better team.
“We have made a lot of mistakes. There are a lot of games we could have won. We have to learn from that. We have got our weaknesses‚ but our resilience and competitive edge is there.”
Da Gama does admit that it has been a steep learning curve for many of his players‚ but that this will only make them better in the future.
“Sometimes you just need to make it through your first season. You need to see who can make that step-up from the NFD and who can’t. A lot of players have raised their hands‚ but some are still battling.
“When we started this season there was a monkey on our back. The team had come up and got relegated before‚ so we first had to get that out of the way and now we can concentrate on some bigger and better things.”
Highlands took the lead against 10-man City on Tuesday‚ but then wasted numerous opportunities to kill the game before conceding a late equaliser.
“You have to be ruthless in this game‚ when you get those one-on-one chances … [Tendai] Ndoro came on and he just changed the complexion of our attack. He set up [Peter] Shalulile two or three times.
“But if you don’t take those chances‚ you are going to crack some time because they [City] are a quality team.
“We allowed Cape Town City to come back by dropping too deep. That comes with experience‚ with a little bit more experience we could have held a high line and made them play at the back like we did in the first half.”
Da Gama says he was proud that his side managed to bounce back from a 3-0 Nedbank Cup loss at the same venue in February.
“No team has beaten us twice this season. We were not going to be beaten again‚ I could bet my bottom Dollar on that‚” he said.