BULAWAYO – When Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu spoke to journalists during a post match interview after the Mbada Diamonds Cup final at Barbourfields on Saturday, it was clear that the Zambian was fighting back tears as he fielded questions.
So palpable was the emotion on the coach’s face when he dedicated his team’s 3-0 victory over How Mine to Jesus that he had to pause briefly and press his eyelids together for a lengthy moment to stop the tears from streaming down.
And I am sure if the man had an opportunity to guide his charges into another battle after leading his team to a much needed victory in the biggest cup competition in the land; he would sport the inscription “It is well” on his back.
Kaindu has in the past two years popularised the saying “It shall be well” but that inscription has of late been missing from the back of his shirts.
Believing that it shall be well was very appropriate in Kaindu’s first season in charge as it promised a bountiful future and the Zambian expatriate had his team’s fans eating out of his hand with a beautiful brand of football.
And the fans still believed even when the 2012 season ended without any silverware because Kaindu had in his first season in charge declared that he was building a championship winning team for 2013.
So you can imagine the pressure that Kaindu and his colleagues in the Highlanders technical team must have felt when the team failed to reproduce last season’s form in this year’s league race.
Needless to say, there was a lot of discontent amongst Highlanders supporters who could not understand why the same group of players that mesmerized opponents with an exciting passing game in 2012 was failing to deliver the goods barely a year later.
For some time blame was directed at Highlanders legend and current team manager Willard Khumalo, who was accused by a section of the team’s fans of interfering in Kaindu’s job, given that he is a qualified coach in his own right.
But after the team failed to land the Castle Premiership championship after being beaten to the title on the last day of the league campaign, it was Kaindu who got a lot of stick for what some fans considered the abandonment of his duties at a crucial stage.
The coach was in the United Kingdom for a Uefa B licence coaching course and missed his team’s penultimate league match against Harare City which ended in an embarrassing 4-0 drubbing and many a Highlanders fan felt that his absence had cost the team dearly.
Even Kaindu himself admitted that the heavy defeat had been the major reason why Highlanders lost the league title on goal difference to their bitter arch-rivals Dynamos – although he was at pains to explain that the team could have lost by the same score-line with him in charge.
And in the run up to the Mbada Cup final, the affable Zambian coach did not hide his fears that this season too could end up in an anti-climax.
His fears stemmed from the fact that his charges had lacked the character needed to wrest the championship from Dynamos by grabbing the initiative when the opportunity presented itself.
But Kaindu’s fears proved to be unfounded after a commanding midfield performance from Saturday’s man of the match Peter Rio Moyo and the goal stopping heroics of Mbada Diamonds Cup 2013 edition player of the tournament Munyaradzi Diya propelled Highlanders to glory against How Mine.
This was sweet victory for a Tshilamoya side that suffered embarrassing losses to the premiership debutants in the just ended league programme.
And as Bosso players celebrated on the winners’ podium, they could not resist taking a dig at How Mine’s alleged use of Juju by singing songs that mocked the use of muti to win football games.
Kaindu has always maintained that he has faith in his players and on Saturday he heaped praise on his squad for finally delivering on the promise they have shown in the two years that he has been in charge.
“Today’s success is the result of the hard work that everyone has put in and I would like to thank the players for they have put in maximum effort and given their all for the team to be where it is today,” Kaindu said.
“We were looking forward to winning the league championship but if you look at the amount of money that is in the Mbada tournament it is far much better to win the Mbada but of course everyone would love to win the league and hopefully we will get it next season.”
Kaindu’s second season in charge of Highlanders has not been smooth sailing and the most difficult period must have come at the end of Castle Premiership season when the prospect of finishing his second year in charge empty handed loomed large over his head.
The Bosso coach must have felt vindicated after his team’s Mbada Cup victory that he took a slight dig at his critics who had hitherto been mocking his team’s inability to become champions.
“We dedicate this trophy to Jesus. It was not easy to beat How Mine and when you come to a platform like Highlanders where everyone expects you to win every game it is never easy because when you lose one or two games people start to lose faith in you,” Kaindu said.
“I am glad therefore that we managed to lift this trophy because there were some people who were saying we are unable to win anything and we keep coming second.”
There has been speculation about whether Kaindu’s contract with Highlanders will be renewed next season but after Saturday’s victory the powers that be at Bosso must have been left convinced to let him continue at the helm.
For at the moment “It is well” at the Bulawayo giants after Kaindu led the team to their first major trophy since 2006 when they won the league championship under Methembe Ndlovu.