Kruger, Highbury vow not just to add numbers in NFD

Newly-promoted sides promise to compete

Neville Khoza Journalist
Highbury players celebrate with the trophy after clinching the ABC Motsepe League playoffs title.
Highbury players celebrate with the trophy after clinching the ABC Motsepe League playoffs title.
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As Motsepe Foundation Championship (MFC) newcomers Kruger United and Highbury prepare their journey in the SA football second tier, they have vowed that they are not going to add numbers but compete.

The two teams secured promotion to the MFC after reaching the final of the ABC Motsepe playoffs at the weekend, where Highbury won 2-0 at Dicky Jacobs Stadium in Upington.

Kruger from Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga beat Thames from North-West in the semifinal, while Highbury from the Eastern Cape beat Njampela from KwaZulu-Natal to seal their promotion.

Kruger were established 11 months ago by business people Bongani Wati and Basil Khoza when they bought the ABC Motsepe League status of Passion.

Co-owner Wati said they are not surprised by how quickly they have qualified for MFC as they had a plan when they bought the status a year ago.

“I don’t think we overachieved. The ultimate goal was to gain promotion quickly,” Wati explained to Sowetan yesterday.

“NFD is different from ABC Motsepe and we deserve to be there. I think we are going to be equal with the teams that are there and we are going to compete. We are not going to add numbers in the NFD.”

Wati said they plan to remain at Thulamahashe Stadium but will have to remove the artificial pitch first. “We’ve been engaging the municipality and also other stakeholders from the government requesting assistance. I think there is progress,” he said.

“I’m not sure if we will be ready when the league starts. We would love to play our games there if the league starts and the stadium is not ready, we will look at other options like Mbombela, Kabokweni or Kanyamazane stadiums.”

Unlike Kruger, who are 11 months old, Highbury have been around since they bought the ABC Motsepe League status from Matatiele Professional in 2012 and moved to Gqeberha, where they are based.

Highbury chairman Cameron Klopper said the objective was to always qualify for the MFC.

“In 2012, we bought the [ABC Motsepe League] status of Matatiele Professional and we moved the franchise to Port Elizabeth,” Klopper said.

“We have competed since then and I have been working with coach KB [Kabelo Sibiya] for the last eight years. He has been at NFD and we have been in contact and exchanging football ideas.

“We then decided lets work together, lets make this reality for Eastern Cape and put together a team that can compete.”

Klopper added they will be based in Gqeberha and will likely use the Nelson Mandela University Stadium, Isaac Wolfson and Gelvandale Stadium for their home games.      

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