Owen da Gama offers an explanation for Highlands Park's defensive frailties

21 January 2020 - 13:46 By Sazi Hadebe
Highlands Park head coach Owen da Gama with goalkeeper coach Rowen Fernandez and striker Rodney Ramagalela at training.
Highlands Park head coach Owen da Gama with goalkeeper coach Rowen Fernandez and striker Rodney Ramagalela at training.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Owen da Gama has offered an explanation for Highlands Park's defensive frailties that have seen the side concede a whooping ten goals in three matches recently.

Highlands exited the top half of the standings after defeats to Kaizer Chiefs (3-0)‚ Stellenbosch FC (4-1) and Orlando Pirates (3-1) and Da Gama attributed the alarming decline to the injuries to several defensive players.

“It is a concern‚” said Da Gama.

“We normally don’t concede a lot of goals.

"But if you look at our match against Chiefs‚ it was (Limbikani) Mzava’s first game in a long time.

“Given Msimango got a knock on his knee and he tried to soldier on through the match but it affected him.

“I think the concern of conceding the goals can be attached to the injuries that we’ve had.

“We haven’t had a consistent and same defence in two matches.

“And you know that’s where you build consistency. We need to build a relationship there at the back.

“Injuries can really affect a club very‚ very negative and in this case we felt it.

“We’ve never had so many injuries since the NFD and since our first year in the PSL‚ but (Ricardo) Williams is going for his operation.

“Msimango and Mahlangu have been asked for ten days to rest since last week. Ryan Rae they’re still working on him.

“Ryan’s injury is a strange one. It’s like a nerve that has affected his hamstring. So it’s not a normal‚ it’s not just an ordinary injury or hamstring or whatever.”

Highlands have conceded 26 goals in 19 matches and they are just two shy of the worst performing team Black Leopards‚ who are sitting two places off the basement courtesy of a better goal difference.

With Highlands' next game against Baroka only coming on the first day of next month‚ Da Gama said he was hopeful that most of his regular defenders would have recovered as they look to reclaim their position in the top eight.

“So we’re hoping and (Makhehlane) Makhaula is also coming‚ he’s been cleared and we missed him tremendously‚" he said.

“What happened in the last three games is that we never had time to recover. You get three games in six days and the player is out for ten days.

“So there isn’t even time to recover.

"Fortunately our match against (Bidvest) Wits next week has been postponed‚ so we’ll have two weeks before we play Baroka.

“So that will give us a little bit of time to get these players back‚ play some friendlies and make sure we get the team organized.

“That’s all we’re hoping for. Just a full week and a half so that we can just get these players back and get a little bit more consistency.

“But in saying that‚ it’s been a blessing in disguise because now we’re creating depth. Maybe at a cost but we’re still a young team‚ so I think we’re creating depth.

“I think it will help us in the long run.”