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Akbay embraces Bosso juniors

by Staff reporter
05 Jun 2016 at 11:36hrs | Views
Going down memory lane, one would remember the yester-year successful Highlanders' squads that thrived mainly on the promotion of its junior players to the senior team.

That invokes memories of the legendary former Bosso juniors coach Ali "Baba" Dube – credited for producing the juniors that made the bulk of the successful Highlanders teams of the 1980s to the 1990s.

Highlanders coach Erol Akbay – the first to beat Dynamos in a league match since 2006 – is making that infusion of players from the development ranks and senior players to make up his squad for the 2016 season.

"If you have an academy, you would obviously look at your own players than outside. I always like to work with the young players because they learn fast and they are hungry for success," Akbay says.

The latest Bosso sensation, reminding many a football fanatic of the legendary Peter Ndlovu, is Prince Dube who scored against Dynamos at Rufaro and created the second goal that was scored by Bruce Kangwa.

Although not a product of the Bosso junior ranks, the 19-year-old striker played for the Highlanders Division Two side last year, scoring 20 goals for the side to earn promotion to Southern Region Soccer League.

Other players that feature in the current Highlanders senior team and were recently promoted from the junior ranks are Brian Banda, Bukhosi Ncube and Godfrey Makaruse.

"I believe in mixing the junior players with the seniors to come up with a good squad. These guys [the juniors] are the future of the club. For instance, Prince [Dube] is one of the best talented players, he is a fast learner. I see him going places. But I still want to have him here while I can still use him," said Akbay.

Highlanders sit on position two on the log table after eight games and Dube is among the leading goal scorers with four goals to his credit.

Bosso technical director Cosmas "Tsano" Zulu, who has spent the better part of his coaching career at Highlanders and says the juniors thrust at Highlanders was started by coach Bobby Clark in in the early 1980s said Highlanders is reviving that club culture.

"Over the years, Highlanders are not known to go into the market to buy players. In 1983 when Bobby Clark came to Highlanders and many of us players were over 30 years of age, he introduced youngsters into the team and although the results were not coming at first, we survived and that culture of having a strong junior policy remained a cornerstone of the team's success," Zulu said.

In 1987, Tsano was part of the Highlanders Under-19 squad that toured Aberdeen, Scotland.

That team had the likes of the late Adam Ndlovu, the late Nqobizitha Maenzanise, Abraham Mbambo, Mackay Nyathi, Nkululeko Dlodlo and Sydney Zimunya and won the tournament after beating 14 countries.

"When I came back I promoted seven of those youngsters into the senior team and that was the team that made the core of the team that won the championship in 1990. They actually won the championship and Zifa Cup," Tsano said.

Peter Ndlovu was to be promoted to the senior team before attracting the attention of England side Coventry City in 1991.

After a slump in the mid-90s, Highlanders reverted to their own products in 1997 when Madinda Ndlovu promoted the likes of Thulani "Biya" Ncube, Siza Khoza, Gift Lunga Junior, Melusi Sibanda, Zenzo Moyo, Noel Kaseke and Simon Sibanda – the team that went on to win the league championship for four consecutive seasons, two under Rahman Gumbo and two under the late Eddie May (1998-1999 and 2001-2002).

Zulu believes that such a feat is still possible and as technical director, he is working towards maintaining that vibrant junior policy.

Source - the standarad