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Mukhtar turns Fraser soccer into a player statewide

Soccer   | Scott Burnstein

State Champs! Sports Network

 

 

 

Fraser – Under revered soccer coach Thaier Mukhtar, the boys soccer team at Fraser is suddenly fierce on the pitch.

Since Mukhtar took over the program in 2012 the Ramblers, never before known as an entity on the statewide soccer scene, have thrived.

Fraser is a three-time defending league champion out of the Macomb Area Conference (twice in the White Division, last year in the Red Division) and two-time defending district champs in Division 1.

Last fall, Mukhtar’s Ramblers made their way to the state semifinals after completing their second straight undefeated regular season. They finished 23-1.

So far this year, Fraser is back at it again cutting through the competition. The Ramblers are 13-2-2 and rolled to a pair of shutouts this week, 3-0 over Utica Ford on Monday and a 1-0 victory over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley two days later.

If you’re familiar with Mukhtar’s coaching resume, the success his Fraser teams have found shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 29 years on the sidelines at Warren De La Salle Mukhtar racked up 499 victories, five state titles and 18 Catholic League championships. He was named USA Today’s National Coach of the Year in 2008.

“All these boys in Fraser needed on the soccer field was someone to believe in them,” Mukhtar said. “We changed the mindset here, made these kids strive for things beyond being average. When you believe and show trust in your players, they’ll start believing more in themselves.

“You treat kids like champions, hold them accountable as if they’re the best at what they do, they play and act like champions. That goes past soccer. You want them to shoot for the moon. That’s what we’ve been able to do here at Fraser. That’s where the expectations are at now. These are great kids, they want it bad and that’s how they compete.”

Andre Eaton and Connor Piccolo are Fraser’s top offensive threats this season. Eaton has 10 goals; Piccolo nine. Piccolo scored the lone goal against Chippewa Valley. Nick Sharpe, the Ramblers’ ace set-up man, assisted on the goal, one of 10 Sharpe has this season.

Defensively, Fraser has been consistent and stout. Goalie John Steffes recorded his 11th shutout of the season on Wednesday.

Mukhtar’s recipe for success on the pitch is relatively simple.

“I believe firmly that discipline, organization and conditioning get you wins,” he said. “The work rate and work ethic had to change when I got here. And it did. And the kids all embraced it, they wanted to put in the time, they wanted to be pushed. Now, they’re experiencing the fruits of that labor. They’re not satisfied either. They want more. This is a program on the move.”

Mukhtar has coached the Fraser girls soccer team for the last 12 years as well.