Akbay settles at Bosso

WHILE much of the attention has been fixed on Dynamos’ stuttering start to the season, or the manner in which Lloyd Chitembwe has transformed CAPS United, Highlanders coach Erol Akbay has been quietly going about his business at the Bulawayo giants.

Akbay arrived at Highlanders at the start of the season and was tasked to turn around the fortunes of a club that last landed the championship in 2006 under the guidance of Methembe Ndlovu.

The Bulawayo giants had an indifferent 2015 season which saw them fight relegation at some stage.

Bosso only regained their form towards the end after Amini Soma-Phiri replaced Bongani Mafu.

In the end, Highlanders finished the season in sixth place and also landed the NetOne EasyCall Cup after defeating Chicken Inn in the final.

It was clear there was a change needed to take Bosso forward and the club hierarchy decided to look for the Dutch coach.

The 49-year-old Akbay was given a two-year performance-based contract and before he could even start his work, he had to fight resistance from those who questioned his coaching credentials.

Very few gave him a chance given he was coming to Africa for the first time worse leading a team with demanding followers like Bosso.

And unlike his Portuguese counterpart Paulo Jorge Silva, who signed for Dynamos at almost the same time, the Dutchman’s arrival into the country was delayed following late issuing of his work permit by the local authorities. But five matches into the season, Akbay has picked three wins, one draw and one defeat. 

His team is sitting in third place on the log with 10 points three behind joint log-leaders CAPS United and FC Platinum. At his unveiling ceremony, the Dutch coach made it clear he would want his team to play Total football.

For someone who was considered a bogus coach, Akbay’s results are obviously there for everyone to see.

Of course, Highlanders are yet to hit top gear but signs are evident that given time this team could go far.  Akbay’s arrival at Highlanders coincided with the departure of some of the team’s best players like Nqobizitha Masuku, who joined FC Platinum, striker Obadiah Tarumbwa and defender Teenage Hadebe crossed the floor to reigning league champions Chicken Inn.

Winger Valentine Ndaba, who played a crucial role for the Bulawayo giants in the previous season, went on to join bitter rivals Dynamos and very few gave Highlanders a chance to assemble a competitive team for the 2016 season.

But with the help of his assistant Soma-Phiri and technical director Cosmos “Tsano” Zulu, coupled with a tight budget, Akbay was forced to search for talent from the club’s juniors.

And this eventually gave birth to some youngsters like Prince Dube, who has been a revelation since he was promoted to the first team.

There is also a player like King Nadolo, who did not have much game time last season, but has since been in electric form this campaign.

Bosso travel to newboys Ngezi Platinum Stars this Sunday hoping to maintain their form and keep up with CAPS United and FC Platinum.

But while all seems to be going well for Highlanders, the same cannot be said about their rivals Dynamos who have only managed five points from their opening five matches, scoring only two goals against Mutare City since the start of the current campaign. —Godknows Matarutse

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