Sikhumbuzo Moyo Senior Sports Reporter
DUTCH coach Erol Akbay was yesterday expected to sign a one-year deal with Bulawayo giants Highlanders that will see him take charge of Bosso in the 2016 season.
It emerged that the two parties had not yet agreed on anything despite the 49-year-old conducting the Bosso Under-19 training session on Friday morning at Crescent Sports Club in Parkview suburb.
On Sunday, the Dutchman was also part of the crowd that witnessed Bosso labouring to a 1-0 win over visiting army side Buffaloes in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Barbourfields Stadium.
Akbay sat quietly next to Highlanders’ chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede in the VIP enclosure during Sunday’s game and could be seen gesticulating each time the Bosso attack let chances go begging.
“I’m here for talks but so far it all looks promising. I hope we will seal everything later today,” said Akbay in an interview at a city lodge yesterday.
Akbay, who was a wing striker during his playing days with HVV Hengelo in his home country, said if given the hot seat as expected, he would start his pre-season preparations soon after the New Year’s holidays.
“It will be my first job in Africa, but it’s a challenge I’m willing to take up. From my own research about the club, it’s clear that Highlanders is a movement, a very big institution with equally passionate fans that are hungry for success. It’s my hope that I will be able to give them that success,” said the soft spoken Akbay.
The Dutchman is a firm believer of one touch football as it gets fans fully behind the team “because fans are very key to the success of the team, but that can only happen if we give them good football”.
Akbay said he would have preferred bringing his own assistant, but the Bosso leadership had shot down that idea citing a shoe-string budget.
“The club will now provide an assistant coach, which is not an issue really, but I would have wanted to appoint my own assistant. Your second in charge must be able to understand your philosophy so that even if you are not around, the players won’t see any difference. The club said they could not afford him and I’m okay with that,” said Akbay.
A former Highlanders’ player is likely to assist the Dutchman.
Akbay was recommended to Highlanders by the club’s benefactor Tshinga Dube, who said the Dutch coach was available, affordable and keen to work in Africa.
The Bosso hierarchy seem to have settled for the virtually unknown Dutchman ahead of his fellow countrymen Peter De Jongh and Clemence Westerhof, as well as Scotsman Desmond Bulpin, fellow Briton Mark Harrison, Jeff Cook from the United States of America, Ethiopian Anteneh Eshete, Malawian Kinnah Phiri and Zambian Dean Mwiinde, who had all shown an interest in one of the hottest seats in Zimbabwean football.
Surprisingly no local coach applied for the Bosso job probably to avoid the weight of expectations associated with the position.