BULAWAYO - New Highlanders coach Errol Akbay vowed to transform the Bulawayo giants into a competitive side which challenges for titles on a regular basis after he was unveiled yesterday.
The Dutchman arrived in Bulawayo shortly after midday yesterday via South Africa and held his first media briefing at the team’s club house before taking charge of the afternoon training session.
The Dutch are well known for their Total Football style which was introduced by former national team coach Rinus Michels in the 1970s.
Akbay wants to introduce this culture at Highlanders and turn the club into serial winners who play entertaining football.
“I am very excited to start work and we have to start preparing today. Highlanders are a big club, they have to play football for us to win the championship every year,” Akbay said.
“What I have as a gift for Highlanders; very nice football, very fast football and I hope to beat all the teams that we play against. I want the whole of the club to get what we want this year.”
The Dutchman, however, appealed for patience from the club bosses and the fans as it would take him a considerable period before the players grasp his methods and philosophy.
“Normally, when working with a new team, it takes about three months for them to know what you want but in the first six weeks we make the basics of what we want and after three months the team will be ready. 100 percent,” he said.
“In six weeks, I will be having a vision for the team. But for now I don’t know any of the players, how they play and the quality they have. I have to see and meet with the technical team and make a decision.”
Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede outlined some of the contractual agreements between the Bulawayo giants and Akbay.
“We have a two-year performance-based contract but in the first year as some of you would understand he would still be finding his feet,” Gumede said at the same media briefing.
“You can’t really blame him for the choice of players he will have found. But if he is a coach of his mettle he should be able to guide those players into some form of team of repute.
“So in the first year we are expecting that — in the first 10 games he should be staying with the leading pack and get a minimum of 60 percent of achievement. It may sound steep but we are a very big club.
“If by the end of the year, he finishes in the top four, we will deem that he has done reasonably well.”
Although the club would want to give the Dutchman enough time to assemble a competitive squad, if results do not please the fans, Bosso will be forced to act according to Gumede.
“There are no excuses, he will have acclimatised to the environment of Zimbabwe and been given two chances and the fault will be his if he fails to deliver,” said the Bosso chief.
Gumede also allayed the fears that assistant coaches Amini Soma-Phiri and Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu, who had been training with the squad while waiting for Akbay’s arrival, might try and sabotage their new superior.
“If he (Akbay) does not perform to the best of his ability, the people who were propping him up in his failure are also responsible,” he said of Soma-Phiri and Zulu.
“So if the coaches are going to try and undermine Akbay so that he goes away quickly and they take over, they are in for a big shock, they have to support him.
“It’s in their contracts; if the head coach fails, the assistant coaches would have also failed. So they have every reason to support him.”
Akbay becomes the third European mentor to take charge of Highlanders after Britons Bobby Clark and the late Eddy May.
The two left indelible marks on the club and hopes will be equally high that Akbay too, leaves a lasting legacy at the oldest football club in Zimbabwe.