Akbay back, ready to work

Highlanders’ head coach Erol Akbay, flanked by club public relations officer Kwazinkosi Hlabangana (left) and treasurer Donald Ndebele at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo yesterday

Highlanders’ head coach Erol Akbay, flanked by club public relations officer Kwazinkosi Hlabangana (left) and treasurer Donald Ndebele at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo yesterday

Raymond Jaravaza, Sports Correspondent
HIGHLANDERS’ coach Erol Akbay arrived in Bulawayo yesterday from his two-month long holiday in the Netherlands, recharged and ready for work.

Speaking to Chronicle Sport after landing at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport, the Dutch expatriate said he would meet his technical staff to get a briefing on pre-season progress.

Akbay’s arrival also puts to bed reports that the gaffer, who led Highlanders to position three in his first season in charge of the Bulawayo giants, is dumping Bosso.

Goalkeepers’ coach Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu has been in charge of Highlanders’ pre-season training which began on January 17 in the absence of Akbay and assistant coach Amini Soma-Phiri who was attending a Caf A coaching course in Harare.

“I’m actually on my way home from the airport and I have not met the other coaches. All I know is that we are leaving for South Africa on Sunday and will start training on the following day. I still need a bit of time to be briefed by my colleagues on how the team has been doing,” said Akbay.

Highlanders are expected to leave Bulawayo tomorrow for South Africa and are expected to set up base in Polokwane for a week before moving to Bloemfontein to wrap up their South Africa tour.

It is highly unlikely that Bosso will play friendly matches against Absa Premiership teams in South Africa as the league campaign in that country would have resumed.

Meanwhile, Highlanders will announce a new captain to take over from former skipper Felix Chindungwe, whose contract was not renewed for the upcoming season, when the team returns from a two-week training camp in South Africa.

Chindungwe, left back Julius Daudi and goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni’s contracts with the Bulawayo giants expired on 31 December last year and the club decided not to extend their stay as they were not in the coaches’ plans.

Bosso assistant coach, Soma-Phiri, said it is not given that vice-captain Eric Mudzingwa would automatically take over the armband from the axed Chindungwe.

“We will sit down as the technical team and come up with a name of the player we think should be the captain and then pass it on to the executive for a final decision. But it’s not a given that Eric or even the other vice captain Ariel Sibanda will take over from Felix, the armband might actually be handed over to a youngster,” said Soma-Phiri.

This time around head coach Akbay will have a greater say on who will lead Highlanders in the 2017 Premier Soccer League campaign.

“When the head coach took over last year, he found a structure already in place and he did not want to rock the boat so he left a lot of things intact. Now that he has been part of the team, he definitely has his own ideas, expectations and qualities that he seeks from the new captain,” Soma-Phiri said.
-@RaymondJaravaza

Article Source: The Chronicle