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JOHANNESBURG – Baroka FC chairman Khurishi Mphahlele has described his club narrow missing out on a top eight finish last season as a blessing in disguise that should help see them competing with the big guns in the next campaign.
Baroka had their best season in the top flight with a tenth place finish, three points behind eighth-placed Kaizer Chiefs.
“I can't complain because we moved from being relegation candidates to challenging for the top eight,” Mphahlele said on Wednesday at the club's headquarters here during the unveiling of new players and a new kit.
“It is a good thing because the players won't have the arrogance that they made the top eight. Instead they will know they have something to improve on.”
And that improvement, Mphahlele says, should see his team challenging for the championship.
“Our goal is to be able to compete with the top teams. We want to be in the same bracket as the chasing pack.”
To this effect, Mphahlele believes the six new players that they unveiled, promoted from their development side and signed from Glad Africa Championship sides, will help increase competition in the team.
Bennet Bobote and Tshegofatso Bosega were promoted from the club's Diski Challenge side while Sydney Malivha joins from TTM's development side. Train Mokhabi (JDR), Akani Chauke (TS Sporting) and Seleka Sithole (Cape Umoya) join from the Glad Africa Championship.
That none of the new recruits are big name players is common course for Baroka who pride themselves in giving young players an opportunity to prove themselves.
“We never really sign the so-called big name players because on the rare occasion that we did they came here and flopped. I can't sign a 30-year-old player because that is the same as buying wreck. Football is a business and players are assets. We want our brand to be recognised for doing good things and one of those is promoting young players and giving youngsters opportunities.”
Coach Matsemela Thoka expressed his delight at the new acquisitions and said he expects them to help improve the competition for places in the starting team.
Like his boss, he has high ambitions for the new season.
“We narrowly missed out on the top eight because of the silly mistakes we made early in the season when we drewarches we should have won and lost some we should have at least got a point from. We have learnt and now we want to finish in the top four this time.”
Baroka start with their pre-season today although they will be without five players who have been included in the national under 23 team that will be participating in the Cosafa Cup.