Ak­bay re­views 2016 sea­son

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

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

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