Akbay reviews 2016 season
HAPPY to finish his first season in charge of Highlanders within the target set by the club, the Bosso gaffer Erol Akbay said their title race suffered a major blow in the opening five matches of the second half of the season when they only picked a point from a possible 15.
Highlanders gave their followers reason to believe following some breathtaking outings and by the halfway mark, they looked in control of their destiny.
They finished the season on position three behind Caps United who were deservedly crowned 2016 champions and ending an 11-year title drought. FC Platinum were second.
In his review of the 2016 season, Akbay who was given a mandate to finish within the top four bracket said losing Bruce Kangwa to Tanzania’s Azam FC and Knox Mutizwa to South Africa’s Bidvest Wits during the mid-season was a massive blow to their championship race.
Just after losing the duo, Highlanders struggled to adapt without them and went on to lose four of their opening five games of the second half of the season to Caps United (1-0), Mutare City Rovers (2-1), Triangle United (2-1) and ZPC Kariba (1-0). During that period they drew 1-1 with Chicken Inn. Despite dipping in form after the halfway mark, Bosso surprisingly stayed within the title race, only to suffer another blow on Week 28 when they lost 1-2 to Tsholotsho FC, a result that left the championship race out of their control.
“I’m happy that I finished my season within my set targets even though I wanted to win (the championship). We were so much in the title race and I think we lost it when our key players (Kangwa and Mutizwa) left because after that we struggled to find our rhythm. We had to try different styles and it took long for the players to understand that. That is the period I believe we lost the championship race but the team did well to fight and push for the title until that time when we lost 2-1 to Tsholotsho,” said Akbay.
He heaped praises on his charges and hopes for a better 2017 season.
“As a team we had good players who wanted to learn something and that made my work easier. For next season, just like any coach I’ll like to strengthen my squad and the problem that we have is lack of strikers. We had good players in every position and played good football but good football without scoring is not good at all.
“We had to be creative in our style of play because of the shortcomings we had upfront. I’m a coach who never played what I want but rather played according to the strengths of my players. If we want to be champions we need quality players and those quality players cost money that I know the club doesn’t have. We have to look at players who are free and are not attached to any clubs,” said Akbay.
He said his pre-season training will start six-weeks before the league’s first game. Akbay who missed the 2016 pre-season camp as he was stuck at home in The Netherlands waiting for his work permit, believes being available when the club starts 2017 preparations will help him set the right foundation. — @ZililoR