Lafia pitch is not good for football – Abdul Maikaba
*Supporters of clubs in Nigeria need to be patient
*Give coaches time to work
Coach Abdul Maikaba has been on the scene for a while with his varied experience with Kano Pillars, Enyimba of Aba and lately with Wikki Tourists of Bauchi. He is now the man to return Akwa United to the top with the support of the management team. He believes he has the magic wands to take Akwa United to the top again having done that with Wikki Tourists. He spoke with Olayinka Elebute in Lafia.
How will you rate your game against Nasarawa United?
It was a nice game, only that the field is strange for us to cope with. We don’t have an idea of how the pitch was. The temperature also did not help matters. My boys tried, but we were unlucky losing to Nasarawa.
I understand when you say the pitch was strange because your team play on natural grass at home. But, are you as a manager saying the artificial pitch is not really good?
This one is a different type of artificial turf. Whoever comes across this kind of artificial turf will know it’s not good for football. The ball was not moving and it was difficult for us playing on that turf.
Your team is just getting in their groove. Everyone knows you to be a fantastic manager one’s you are settled in. How are you fitting into Akwa United?
I’m happy and I can say I’m focused. We want to make history in Akwa United. In the beginning it was so difficult because, one, they have a change of philosophy and change of players. So it was difficult to adapt. But now that we’re playing games weekly we’re getting better. You can see improvement even from the results we’re getting. I hope things will be a lot better in coming weeks.
A lot of people never expected you were going to leave Wikki Tourists for Akwa United. Was it the pay that made you switch?
I have the best facilities in Nigeria to do the job as a coach, a good pitch which is a basic thing you need to train players. You’ve a stadium that is television friendly, which means most of our games will be televised. And it’s an opportunity for the world to see the level of work we’re doing at Akwa United. That’s what attracted me to Akwa.
You won a continental ticket with Wikki Tourists but they couldn’t make it past first round. How do you feel since you qualified them for the continent?
I felt so bad. Because I left Wikki Tourists not because I don’t like Wikki. I needed fresh challenges. I needed an ambitious team that could go with my aspirations. So I’m happy here at Akwa United. I enjoyed my stay at Wikki Tourists. I still give Wikki my contribution, some of the players do call me sometimes because they see me as a father. I’m happy and focused right here now.
What is the challenge here, what is the aspiration at Akwa United, what is the target given by the management?
When they contacted me, they asked if I could repeat the same feat at Wikki here. That is getting a continental ticket with this team. And I promised to do my best to achieve the task. It’s a collective effort from me and the crew with the management.
What is your message to Akwa Ibom people and football supporters in Nigeria?
I appeal to supporters of clubs in Nigeria to be patient and give coaches time to work. They should learn to support their teams even on bad days. They should know how to bring back teams to play better and win games. But in Nigeria in most cases on bad days, coaches were beaten after games. I think fans should learn to encourage coaches to give their best.
What is your take on the mid week games?
Actually it’s stressful for a team to prepare for this. Any player you ask in Nigeria will complain of the tedious nature of the journey we go through. Sometimes we travel 17, 18 hours to go and play games. There is no way you can get the best from the players. We’re appealing to the LMC on the schedule even though we know they have a target trying to re-fix the calendar. But for now its what we need to bear.