- Published on Wednesday, 06 September 2017 17:18
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By Wale Mustapha
Ahead the last matchday of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC coach, Henry Makinwa undertook a self-assessment of his side’s performance and rated it as successful by the team’s set objectives.
He did not exactly say what that objective is or are but it is general knowledge that the club are on the brink of being relegated to the lower division with a match away to Nasarawa United.
ABS returned to the top flight last season from the second tier and started their campaign on a bright note with impressive results and exciting performances.
But the Ilorin-based club had a dip in form midway through the season and slipped further down to relegation belt and are hoping to beat the drop going into the final day of this season.
Keen observers would reckon that the season has been miserable for ABS, tagged as giant killers at some point in the campaign but Makinwa will not accept that rating and has argued that the club are champions in their class and targets. Yet he admitted there have been issues with funding which he attributed to be the major setback for the club to compete against better funded opponents.
"It has been a very productive, positive season, and we are champions in terms of achieving our primary objectives which is empowerment for the youths.
"We are playing with school boys, we have almost 15 to 17 calls for these boys to go to bigger clubs, the objective is achieved already, that's what the proprietor (Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki) wanted, to empower the youths.
"We have Igbos, Hausa, Yoruba, Efik, Tivs, everybody in the team to be empowered, but he said to us, pick the best legs irrespective of his tribe, on merits and let them empower themselves and their families and I think that one is achieved.
"To compete with others is another question because we are playing and competing with millionaire clubs, they have a lot of millions to buy players, pay big bonuses and salaries to pick the best players all over Africa.
"FC Ifeanyiubah has almost seven to eight international players, Akwa United, Enyimba, Plateau United all have big players, so it's very tough for us to compete," Makinwa told npfl.ng.
Makinwa who played in Spain for Rayo Vallecano insists the blame for ABS' dismal season should spread across everyone who has played any role in the club including himself.
He however called for more focus, support and commitment for the club to end the season on a high.
"Of course I won't be able to say that, others could see it, maybe it's from players but I have my fault as well and everybody with the club has his own part of the fault including the management, the players, all of us. But I have tried to do things correctly on merit according to my thinking and philosophy, so if I've done anything wrong I don't know may be people would see.
"If I have the chance to be here again, I will do the same thing I've been doing, nothing wrong about it, but if we (ABS FC) have money to compete I bet you I will win the league without losing a game, if I have some money other (clubs) have and the players I wanted to have I will win the league unbeaten.
"I'm happy we got over our last home game of the season with a win (ABS FC came back from Angola down to beat Abia Warriors 2-1 last Sunday in Ilorin). It was a tension soaked match and it was a big game because we were a bit psychologically not stable, Abia were too physical but I was positive we would turn it around and happy we did.
"We are still pushing it (survival from relegation) to the last day in the league, still the same intention, same approach, but with a renewed focus, commitment and support from everybody in the team, we hope to win there (against Nasarawa United in Lafia) and we hope other teams get bad results so that we can stay up," concluded Makinwa.
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