New Leiston striker Cliff Akurang will be player and coach next season

Cliff Akurang in action for former club Chelmsford City

Cliff Akurang in action for former club Chelmsford City - Credit: Anthony Tapsell

New Leiston striker Cliff Akurang will have a foot in both camps next season after landing a player-coach role at Victory Road.

The 33-year-old turned down offers from a number of other clubs, including Conference South outfits Bromley and Bishop’s Stortford – he featured for the latter last season – to sign a year-long deal with Steve Ball’s Ryman Premier Division side.

The former Braintree Town and Chelmsford City striker is currently studying for his UEFA coaching badges and while he is plotting his post-football career, he is keen on spear-heading Leiston’s attack next season as Steve Ball’s side look to improve on last term’s ninth-placed finish.

“There were a number of reasons why I decided to join Leiston and one was to enhance my coaching experience,” said Akurang.

“The main lure was being able to work with Steve Ball, who has a fantastic record himself and who is some I can learn from, while Adam Tann and Craig Parker, were close friends of mine at Chelmsford City.

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“They were always persuading me to come down to Leiston.

“I have just done my UEFA ‘B’ licence and I am looking to add as much experience to my repertoire as possible.

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“Steve has done really good job since he has been at Leiston, with the help of Adam, and I will be watching and learning what they do.

“If it isn’t broke, then there will be no need to fix it, but if there is anything to do short term then I will try and help and I will look to work with the strikers and help them in key areas.”

Akurang is joining Leiston with a wealth of playing experience under his belt, most notably with Barnet, for whom he scored 10 goals in 45 appearances during the Bees’ stay in the Football League.

“Hopefully Leiston will be getting an exciting striker, one that will score goals and finish off chances, which is what I have been doing for most of my career,” added Akurang, who will be expected to be the focal point of Leiston’s attack, Ball favouring a 4-5-1 formation.

“Anything I can add to help the players around me I will.

“Some players compliment others with the way they play and as a targetman, I can get involved in the battles with the centre-halves that maybe the smaller players would struggle with, be able to hold the ball up and allow my team-mates to stay further up the pitch for longer.”

Akurang scored eight goals in 15 games for Bishop’s Stortford in the Skrill South last season, but revealed he always kept an eye out for his new team’s results.

“Because of Adam (Tann) and Craig (Parker) I always looked out for their results to see how they were doing,” Akurang revealed.

“Then there was Steve Pitt who left Bishop’s Stortford to manage Leiston and I thought he did OK there.

“I know that had Leiston started the season they way finished it, then they would have been in title-winning form.

“It promises to be an exciting season.”

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