A former league player, still in their 40s now manage elite clubs for the first time in their careers this season and have so far been able to bring a breath of fresh air regarding the utilisation of younger, energetic players as the “older” ones phase away gradually.
Former Jasper and Udoji United player Willy Udube is in charge of Go Round, former Iwuanyawu Nationale forward Mangut Mbwas is coaching Delta Force while former Kwara United star Aliyu Zubair is managing for the first time in charge of Wikki Tourists of Bauchi.
These new generation of coaches have tried in their own ways to achieve modest results in spite of the dangerous module of the abridged season and only last weekend, Zubair led his Wikki charges to an unexpected but deserved 1-1 draw with former league champions Enyimba in Aba.
Zubair who was the first assistant to Abdu Maikaba during his successful two-year reign at Akwa United spoke to the media on his journey so far.
“The job has been very very challenging but I believe the job didn’t come as a surprise,” began Aliyu
“It did not come on a platter of gold. It has come through hard work and considering the fact that I’ve worked under experienced coaches as chief coach previously.
“I worked with the likes of Kadiri Ikhana, John Obuh and Samson Unuanel and I think that gave me the required preparation to face the challenge but actually, it is challenging, although it never came as a surprise, it is highly challenging,” added Zubair.
With three matches left in the regular season, Wikki Tourists are occupying the final relegation spot in Group A (9th) with 24 points. Zubair remains bullish that his side will not go down at the end of the season and gives a tangible reason for their seeming struggles.
“Certainly, relegation is not our portion,” he said emphatically.
“The only thing is, any time you see a team playing home outside its home, you need to give that team a lot of respect, that is why I give Enyimba a lot of respect because of the fact that last season and season before, they were playing their home matches in Calabar which means all the time, we are on the road so it’s not been easy.
“If not for the fact that the players are young; many of the players are from the state league and haven’t played in the national league not to talk of the premier league so it has not been easy playing home away from home but all the same, relegation is not our portion.”
Up next for Wikki at their adopted home ground in Gombe is a date with Zubair’s former side and relegation candidates Kwara United on Wednesday.