The Sunday Mail
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.