- After losing to the Hawks of Gambia by 2:1 in Uyo last weekend, Akwa United has an herculean task to scale at Gambia in 10 days.
Akanimo Kufre in an Interview with Ansu Fatty, Team Manager, Banjul Hawks of Gambia attempted to find out why the Hawks players were in such high spirits and motivation after their last training session on Saturday evening in Uyo before Sunday game.
Coming from amateur league in a less populated country, they faced professional league toppers in Nigeria with deserving respect. The lowly rated Hawks snatched away joy and pride from Akwa United with awe and shock. They waited for ample opportunity while Akwa created scores of scoring chances, made dominative and entertaining play for most of the regulated time. The Hawks however utilized the only two chances they had to score 2 heartbreaking goals against a side that hasn’t lost at home for over a season.
Hawks’ first goal came at 13th minute from a free kick that Akwa keeper didn’t guard properly and the second with a tactful volley that caught unsuspecting Akwa keeper off balance.
As well planned out Fatty, boys never attempted to disrespect Akwa by contesting in skilful play. They came with surprise and left great shock. While Coach Maikaba side promise to repay with similar coin in Gambia, this is how the bitterness stalk at unwary Akwa United.
What is your expectation from your opponent, Akwa United?
We are all out to pick a point or the point here, to take the game to Gambia. That means a lot of hard work and I think the team spiritually, mentally, physically, tactically is ready for that.
Are you not intimidated by Akwa record as leading team in Nigerian professional football league?
With their position and record one has to respect it, but every game has its own history. You know we are going to play 11 against 11 and sometimes you don’t have to put history by assessing your next game. It is true but we have to give them their big respect as league leaders in Nigeria and playing 7 games and losing 1 that is alarming and show that we have to give them the respect they deserve but it doesn’t mean we are not going to play football.
What makes you confident you can pick a point or win tomorrow’s game?
Well the 90 minutes will tell, we have prepared the good thing is that Akwa united don’t know much about Hawks, and maybe we don’t know much about them as well . Maybe the first 10-15 minutes will tell about both teams whether which team could at least stretch Akwa united nonetheless they are the senior and most superior team because we giving them respect for that.
As an experienced coach in CAF tournament, how would you rate the league in Nigeria and what you have in Gambia?
I have not been following Nigerian league but I know it is a professional league and professional league has regulations. With Nigeria the sky is the limit for them because the good thing is that some of these clubs has been run by the State or so and this is what we need in football. You know football cannot go without money. It is all about money because money is a motivational factor. If money is pumped into our football, that can ease the numbers of players going to Europe to play football. You know we will have good players who can stay in our league and make our league very interesting. Because you will see here one player extremely, the next year he is in Europe or somewhere else which is not very helpful. If we have the finances we can sustain the players in Africa it will be very great.
The league in Gambia is an amateur league, a league of 12 teams and some of these teams as I say are running their teams on their own and if Akwa united can sponsor our team to run our league it will be very interesting. It is an interesting league it is going fine we are just starting. We are not in a good position if you look at the table but looking at the point there is not much difference there. When you want to grade us we are not like in a good position when you look at the point it is not so much difference when you win one or two you can just be in 2nd or 3rd. Let’s not assess by the position.
What do you think of the facilities here at ‘Nest of Champions’ especially the playing turf?
Exceptional, this is what we are expecting from all African countries. If you want a good football at least this is one of the ways of motivating football in Africa. When you go to other clubs training ground players struggle but it is also helpful when you have a bad training ground and you come to a smooth ground. I mean playing there will be very easy. So we are calling on African government to invest in sports. One of our investment is for the stadium to be standard field so that we can have a better football and training of coaches also is very important. Football cannot go well without all stakeholders in football, we need to help all areas but infrastructure is one of the best and most important thing if we want to improve on our football.
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