Akbay, Tsipa September’s best Bosso coach wary of Chapungu
HIGHLANDERS’ magnificent run in September has seen their Dutch coach Erol Akbay being named Coach of the Month, while Caps United’s veteran forward Leonard Tsipa bagged the Player of the Month accolade. Speculation had been rife that Highlanders’ solid defender Peter Muduhwa could claim the gong, as he has been in outstanding form for Bosso and is one of the major reasons for the team’s brilliant run. Ironically, Tsipa saw red against Highlanders in a league match at Barbourfields Stadium in an off-the-ball incident in which the veteran striker head-butted Muduhwa last month. The ageless Tsipa seems to have rediscovered his goal scoring prowess of yesteryear and is now the league’s joint top goal scorer with Hwange’s Gift Mbweti on nine goals. There is no sign to suggest that Tsipa will not score more goals as he is always a threat each time he’s on the pitch. The Coach of the Month award is Akbay’s second monthly honour this season and the Dutchman was delighted with the recognition last night. “Oh really, I had not heard the news. I feel very good and quite happy, but to be honest I was not expecting to win it. I thought it will be someone else,” said Akbay, when Chronicle Sport reached him for comment. Highlanders, who had a rough journey in the first games of the second half of the season, rediscovered their form in September and are literally bullying each team they faced. They recorded five wins, four in the league and one in the Chibuku Super Cup. All the five wins were dramatic, and they had to come from behind in three of them. Highlanders came from a goal down to win 2-1 against Border Strikers, Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum in the league. They also beat Harare City at Rufaro Stadium in a game the home side was awarded a dubious penalty that was saved by goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda. Bosso also booted out Mutare City Rovers from the Chibuku Super Cup in dramatic fashion when Akbay introduced his trump card veteran striker Ralph Matema just as the visitors were bracing themselves for a penalty shootout. Matema weaved his magic and Bosso won the game in regulation time. The selection for the awards is done by a panel of selected journalists, 16 club coaches and their captains. TITLE chasing Highlanders have ruffled feathers after revelations that they booked Ascot Stadium in Gweru for their training sessions today and tomorrow ahead of Saturday’s Castle Lager Premiership clash against Chapungu.
Ascot Stadium is owned by the Gweru City Council and is used by Chapungu as their home ground and also conduct their training sessions at the same venue. Chapungu conducts its training sessions at 10AM as well as in the afternoon.
However, Highlanders have been given the green light to train at Ascot in the afternoon, leaving Chapungu in quandary due to the double booking. HIGHLANDERS coach, Erol Akbay, knows any slip up by his charges at this stage of the league marathon will virtually rule them out of the
A source in the city council confirmed the double booking, saying the director of housing and community services Shingirai Tigere had written a letter giving Bosso permission to train at the venue.
The move has drawn the ire of Chapungu, who have accused Highlanders of using bullying tactics ahead of their clash.
“We won’t accept such an arrangement. Where else have you seen such a thing happening? We have booked Ascot Stadium and we cannot cancel to allow an opponent to train in our home ground,” said Chapungu vice-chairman Ackroid Moyo.
“What Highlanders are doing is not good for football and if this is the way they are going to win the league using dirty tactics, then they are not worthy champions.” championship reckoning a race they desperately need to win to end their decade-long wait for the premiership crown.
The Bulawayo giants are on the road to Gweru for a date with tricky customers Chapungu at Ascot this Saturday in a match the Dutch mentor has described as a “must-win”.
Bosso are third on the log standings with 47 points, four adrift of table-toppers FC Platinum who are eyeing their first league title with only five games to play before the curtain comes down on the season.
Akbay’s charges have gone for six matches on the bound without dropping a single point but he sounded diplomatic ahead of the Midlands tie.
“Chapungu is a very dangerous opponent. They come at you like a house on fire and if you are not well prepared for their raids then you just crumble.
“They play good football and they have a very good coach who knows how to play his cards well.
“But, we are Highlanders, a team with a realistic chance of winning the title if other fixtures go our way. We are in ready for the game and I am sure fans will be in for a treat come Saturday. “This is a mustwin game for us. We need to bag the points if we are to retain our chances of winning the league title. We have to win all our remaining games including the one against Chapungu but one thing is for certain, we need to respect our opponents because we know what they are capable of doing,” said Akbay. Highlanders won the reverse fixture 1-0 at Babourfields early in the season but Akbay reckons his team will not read much on their good record against Chapungu. Akbay has no injury or suspensions to worry about as he has the whole pool of his players available for the encounter. The Dutch coach has endeared himself with the Bosso faithful this season after he masterminded a double over bitter rivals Dynamos for the first time in 10 years.
Leonard Tsipa Erol Akbay