El­roy Ak­bay flies into a storm

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Don Makanyanga

EL­ROY AK­BAY, the Dutch men­tor, will cer­tainly fly into a storm as he ar­rives in Mhon­doro mid-Jan­uary.

Things are not look­ing good at Ngezi Plat­inum Stars, where play­ers’ favourite coach Ton­derai Ndi­raya was re­cently given his march­ing or­ders a few weeks be­fore the Mhon­doro-based out­fit even­tu­ally missed out on the league ti­tle.

A mas­sive player ex­o­dus looms at Ngezi, where Ak­bay looks set to in­herit a frac­tured club and bro­ken dress­ing room.

Some se­nior play­ers have been trans­fer-listed, while those that have re­mained on the club’s books are un­cer­tain of their fu­ture.

Wor­ry­ingly, some have al­ready left, while oth­ers want trans­fer clear­ances. Ngezi Plat­inum Stars sec­re­tary Cloete Mun­joma con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment.

“Once the af­fected play­ers have been of­fi­cially in­formed, I will share the in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

Tichaona Chipunza, Tichaona Mab­vura, Don­ald Te­guru, Dono­van Bernard, Stephen Owusu and Keith Mur­era are some of the play­ers ru­moured to want out.

Wal­ter Mukanga and Clive Au­gusto have al­ready left the club.

Cap­tain Liberty Chako­roma was linked to Premier­ship new­boys Man­ica Diamonds be­fore mak­ing a last-minute de­ci­sion to stay in Mhon­doro.

As the for­mer High­landers coach, Ak­bay jets in the coun­try from his base in Nether­lands mid-Jan­uary, and his im­me­di­ate task will be to ad­dress a bro­ken dress­ing room as he seeks to build a cham­pi­onship win­ning team.

“We are not sure what his de­mands are and if I per­son­ally do not feel com­fort­able, then there will be no op­tion for me and some other play­ers but to look for other clubs.

“It is not go­ing to be easy work­ing un­der a new coach: there is a change of tac­tics, sys­tem and ev­ery­thing will just be new, and we have to be at our best if we are to win the ti­tle next year,” said a Ngezi Plat­inum Stars player.

Club chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Nyasha Kadenge dis­pelled ru­mours of a player ex­o­dus de­spite hint­ing that some play­ers could be on their way out when Ak­bay starts his ten­ure.

“We are read­ing about the dis­as­ter in the Press, but it’s not what is hap­pen­ing on the ground.

“We have no idea where you get­ting the re­ports from, but when we do our player un­veil­ing, you will see who we have re­tained and who we have hired,” said Kadenge.

Hav­ing twice come close to win­ning the cham­pi­onship in their three-year so­journ in the top flight, Ngezi Plat­inum Stars have changed coaches four times.

Kadenge be­lieves there is no anom­aly in play­ers leav­ing the club as it is the case the world over dur­ing the start of a new sea­son.

“Like ev­ery club, we have play­ers who do not fit into our plans next sea­son, but we are not hav­ing an ex­o­dus.

“Our club is strong and will be fight­ing for the ti­tle again next sea­son,” she said.

Af­ter get­ting close to grab­bing the ti­tle dur­ing the 2017 sea­son, the am­bi­tious Mhon­doro side availed enough funds for 2018 for then-coach Ndi­raya, who was tasked with wrestling the ti­tle away from fel­low min­ers FC Plat­inum.

It was a fu­tile ex­er­cise as Ngezi Plat­inum Stars lost the ti­tle race by 13 points.

The am­bi­tious club is also set to of­fer their new gaffer an­other blank cheque.

Af­ter break­ing the bank to get the play­ers that for­mer coach Ndi­raya had re­quested, all looked on course for Madamburo to clinch the Premier­ship ti­tle, as they went on a 14-match un­beaten run streak dur­ing the first half of the sea­son, only to be halted by Bu­l­awayo Chiefs.

The de­feat to Bu­l­awayo Chiefs sig­nalled the start of a bad patch for Madamburo as the team con­tin­ued to suf­fer losses that spilled into the sec­ond half of the sea­son, af­ter which the club even­tu­ally lost grip on the ti­tle race.

Sens­ing that their ti­tle hopes were crum­bling, Ngezi Plat­inum Stars parted ways with Ton­derai Ndi­raya with five games still to play.

He was sub­se­quently re­placed by his for­mer as­sis­tant Kifton Kadurira, who only man­aged four points.

IN HAP­PIER TIMES. . .Ngezi Plat­inum Stars play­ers cel­e­brate a goal at Baobab last sea­son. IN­SERT: Newly ap­pointed coach El­roy Ak­bay

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