Ikkechukwu Ibenegbu of Enyimba (right) vs Rivers United

Coach Gbenga Ogunbote has told SCORENigeria Enyimba are now getting their bearing in the NPFL after a difficult first round of the season and they will soon be the team to beat.

The interview:

SCORENIGERIA: Good day coach. You will agree with me the local derby between Enyimba and Abia Warriors was a cracking game.

OGUNBOTE: It was a good one, it really showcased the name tag of a local derby. Nobody would have expected any other result except for the fact that we did not score more than two goals. But the most important thing is that we got the three points.

Gbenga Ogunbote – Enyimba coach

The coast is getting clearer by the day for Enyimba, now fourth on the table after your team struggled for some time in the first round. What has been the difference between this present team and the one who played in the first round?

In the first round, we had a lot of issues and for a club like Enyimba you just need to win and win at all times.

I spoke with you before the commencement of the season and you said you were looking forward to winning the league with Enyimba. Is that dream intact?

We still have 14 games to decide that and believe many teams want to win the league as well and Enyimba are among these teams.

Today, you are guests of Nasarawa United, who have won their last five home matches. It should be a tough match for your team.

Yes, no doubt it’s going to be a tough one, when you are playing against Enyimba you need to double your efforts, but the game could go either way. We are going to do our best. All we are asking for is to have a level playing ground and then we can come out with something great.

Coach, let us take a retrospective look at your days in 2010/2012 season with the Sunshine Stars when you got to the semi-final of the CAF Confederation Cup and at the same time the Champions League the following year, what got you going then that you can do it again?

Well, I still have my philosophy with me, my philosophy is always beauty of the game plus success. That is my definition of a good game. And be it as it may, there are people who are watching you, they need to enjoy the game, so we need to add colour, we need to add beauty to the game. Then, Sunshine Stars were a little bit intact because they have been together for a while and we believed in ourselves.

Enyimba have enough quality players this time around, if you look at every player in Enyimba, they are of top quality. Either you like it or not we are just trying our best to find our rhythm presently getting use to. I still want to tell you that Enyimba is still a team in the making, by the time we get ourselves, Enyimba will be the team to beat.

Zamalek defender stops Abu Ali of Enyimba last year

What do Nigerian clubs need to do to improve on their performances on the continent?

Playing on the continent is a different ball game, that is where you get to know that if you are not good, you are not good and aside that, our preparation has to be right and the calibre of players to represent you, that is another factor. Apart from that, there are some teams who really understand international football and Enyimba are one of those and when Sunshine Stars were Sunshine Stars you can equally mention them.

But Enyimba had what it takes to play in the continent, they know that once they are playing in the continent, they are representing Nigeria, so in terms of management and coaching, they are always going for nothing but the best.

And I think whenever you are on the continent, there is no crime asking those who have been there on how they have been doing it, so that you can borrow a leaf from them in order for you to have a formidable team to represent the country.

South Africa beat the Super Eagles 2-0 right there in Uyo with the visitors featuring as many as nine players from the South African league, do you think we have players like that who can represent Nigeria at the highest level?

Of course we have, but the first thing you need to do is to believe in yourself. If you look at the organisers of the Nigeria league, you would have seen a lot of innovations. And if you look at the South African team who played against our country, I am sure, if am not mistaken, you can count about four or three of them who played for Sundowns last season and Enyimba played against Sundowns last season, what this implies is that we should have confidence in the league and we should have confidence in the home-based players.

I want to think that until that is done, we may not really have a solid and balanced team. It has to be the mixture of home and foreign players, so that you can have a formidable team. Above all, all you need to do to have confidence in the home-based players and believe in the local league.

Thank you.

You are welcomed.


By Kola Daniel in Calabar


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