Boukhari, silent force behind Sparta success: ‘Everything fits exactly’
A year ago Sparta was on the verge of death in the premier league, but exactly one year after the appointment of coach Maurice Steijn, the Rotterdammers have gone from relegation candidate to proud sub-topper in the premier league.
With, according to many, also a role not to be underestimated for Nourdin Boukhari, who, as an assistant coach, is still just as structured as in his days as a player. “Sundays are a little more fun than last year,” the 42-year-old Rotterdam native says modestly.
A new player like Boukhari is what they have been waiting for at Het Kasteel for years. Thanks to Vito van Crooij and Koki Saito, among others, old times are reviving, two talents blossomed under Boukhari.
Fastest goal ever
Van Crooij, thanks to a gimmick by Boukhari, actually scored the fastest ever premier league goal this season against AZ. “I had seen this at Bournemouth, years ago,” confessed Steijn’s right-hand man.
“One is beating a cross, another is jumping in the air three more times and yet another is tying his laces just a little bit more,” Boukhari had already noticed the inattention at the Alkmaar players.
And the execution was perfect.
Below is the goal and an interview with Vito van Crooij about working with Nourdin Boukhari:
Steijn appreciates Boukhari enormously. And vice versa. “The first day I had an appointment with him, that’s where I already found the click,” Boukhari says. “I immediately felt that this could bring about something beautiful.”
That’s not really a coincidence, we did our job.
Sparta has already equaled its record number of points (53, from season 96/97) four games before the end, since the introduction of the three-point system in 1995. Add to that the ten points from last season’s last four games, for a total that is usually good for a top-five finish.
And that while Sven Mijnans (mid-term) and Maduka Okoye (last summer) were sold for millions.
“Everything fits exactly,” notes Boukhari. “That is not really a coincidence, we have done our work. Looked carefully at what we were missing and what we could get. And what that actually cost.”
Watch below as Sparta fended off the attack on its fifth-place finish at FC Twente:
Watch the summary of FC Twente – Sparta Rotterdam
According to Boukhari, the composition of the selection is the biggest difference between the Sparta of the (resigned) Henk Fraser and that of Maurice Steijn is that the latter can work with a balanced selection.
All positions double occupied
“We didn’t have the same selection with Henk that we have now. Everywhere now we have two good players for a position,” Boukhari says. “And also some young players who were still eager to develop in the premier league.”
“And a lot of players have developed. Van Crooij, Saito and Shurandy Sambo. Tobias Lauritsen, who has already made 11 as a striker. We are a tight, good team.”