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Title or nothing: Akbay

By Godknows Matarutse

New Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Erol Akbay is fully aware that the ambitious Castle Lager Premiership side brought him from the Netherlands for one thing only — to win the 2019 title.

Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Erol Akbay
Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Erol Akbay

The Dutchman, who previously led Highlanders in the local league, arrived in Zimbabwe last month to succeed Tonderai Ndiraya.

Ndiraya was sacked by the Zimplats-owned side last season with only five games to go with the team in second place and only five points behind eventual champions FC Platinum.

Madamburo went on to finish the season in the same position but some 13 points behind Pure Platinum Play with Clifton Kadurira in temporary charge.

However, towards the end of last year, Ngezi Platinum announced they had appointed Akbay to take charge on a permanent basis.

The Dutchman’s backroom staff is made up of his former assistant at Highlanders Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu and former Chapungu and Shabanie Mine coach Tendai Chikuni.

With at least two weeks in pre-season training, Akbay knows the stakes are high when the 2019 season commences on March 30.

The brief from the Ngezi Platinum hierarchy is very clear; the club has demanded the Dutchman to deliver the elusive title in only their fourth season in the top flight.

“I have to be champion; (it’s) very simple in my contract, there is no secret. The club is very ambitious and it’s the same with me.

“They told me they want to be champions and I said okay, we will go for the championship,” Akbay said after his side’s 1-1 draw against Black Rhinos in a pre-season friendly match at Motor Action Sports Club yesterday.

“If you start with this kind of a team and you know they want something from you, if you don’t like it don’t go there and that’s why I accepted when they said we want to be champions and I said I will try to do my best.

“We have good players and what we need to do is to make sure they play good football. Of course, some players left and others remained but the new players and those remaining have to make sure they play football the way I want.”

Although Akbay is unfazed by his target of winning the championship in only his first season at Baobab, the Dutchman admitted it would take a bit of time for the players to grasp his methods.

“You cannot change the system in one week or two weeks or three weeks,” he said.

“It takes time. They are used to a certain system and now they need to change to a new system and that takes time.”

The Mhondoro-based side lost some of their senior players that have been the backbone of the team since their promotion to the top flight in 2016.

The trio of goalkeeper Bernard Donovan, midfielder Tichaona Chipunza and striker Clive Augusto are now at Chicken Inn.

Midfielder Walter Mukanga has also left although his destination remains a mystery having been linked with Harare City and lately Democratic Republic of Congo side Lupopo FC.

The versatile Godknows Murwira, who can play across the defence and in midfield, is now with FC Platinum.

Captain Liberty Chakoroma and winger Tichaona Mabvura were also agitating for moves but have decided to stay at Baobab.

Akbay is, however, not worried with the departures and has faith in those that have remained as well as those they are looking at signing.

“I think we have some good players. They play good football but the tempo is still slow especially when they get the ball, they walk too much with the ball and my philosophy is not to walk with the ball but you have to play the ball and these guys have to learn to do that,” he said.

“They are very good players but if you don’t pass the ball then you cannot fit into my philosophy.

“I want to see compact football and make sure that a high tempo is there. It takes time but we will see what happens.” DailyNews