Akbay refuses to give up





Under-fire Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Erol Akbay believes his side can spring a surprise to rise up the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log and compete for the league title despite a slow start that has plunged them to 10 points behind log leaders Caps United.

The poor travellers, who have picked just two points away from home so far this campaign, hit the road to the City of Kings where they clash with basement side Bulawayo Chiefs tomorrow at Luveve Stadium on the backdrop of three games without a win.

The Mhondoro-based club roped in Akbay after sacking Tonderai Ndiraya last year, hoping that they would have a better change for the league title, but they seem to be worse off.

Akbay arrived in the country midway through pre-season and was not responsible for assembling the squad following a player exodus at the club and not wholly in charge of the season’s preparations, and it would appear demanding for the title from the Dutchman would be asking too much.

His troubles have been compounded by the sacking of two key players — Liberty Chakoroma and Simba Nhivi — for leading a training boycott in protest over unpaid dues at the beginning of the month.

He, however, believes he has a good side that could spring a surprise, sitting on position eight on the log table with three wins, three draws and three defeats.

“The game against Bulawayo Chiefs is very important for us to fight to be among the teams that are competing at the top. I am not a coach who easily gives up. We have a good squad and I believe we can surprise everybody. We will definitely bounce back. We have been playing good football of late although we were creating chances, but not scoring at the beginning of the season,” Akbay said.

He is, however, wary of a hungry Chiefs.

“But Bulawayo Chiefs are not easy to beat. They have played well in the last two weeks, which means something has changed at the club and they have changed their game plan so we have to be very careful,” Akbay said.

Chiefs stunned Dynamos 2-0 two weeks ago at Luveve before travelling to the Lowveld, where they drew with Triangle at Gibbo.

Bulawayo Chiefs also had a chaotic pre-season, which saw fitness trainer and technical analyst Thulani Sibanda quitting the club, and they engaged coach Joseph Sibindi, who also threw in the towel after a 5-0 mauling by Chapungu in the first game of the season.

Sibanda later rejoined the club.