‘Kano Pillars Aiteo Cup loss is almost unbearable’
The Technical Adviser of Kano Pillars, Coach Ibrahim Musa has said it is almost impossible to bear the pain of defeat in the Aiteo Cup final against Enugu Rangers after a 3-0 lead. In this interview with Trust Sports, the gaffer said Pillars have let down
How disappointed are you by the defeat of your team in the final of this year’s Aiteo Federation Cup? Honestly, I lack words to express the depth of our pain and disappointment. It is hard to believe that we lost the match that we had completely under our control. We are yet to come to terms with what happened. The pain is almost unbearable. However, as people who believe in God, we accept that we were not destined to win. We shall try to move on from this disappointment.
What would you say was responsible for the sudden collapse of Pillars against Rangers?
To be very honest with you, even before the match, I knew that we have a problem in the defence and we were doing our best to manage the situation. Unfortunately, during the match, two of our very key defenders sustained injuries which we couldn’t manage. They were taken out almost at the same time and that was the beginning of our problem. It is not easy to manage such situations. In addition, if our goalkeeper had told us that he was having problem, we would have substituted him but he didn’t tell us anything. For instance the goalkeeper of Rangers was the one who asked his coach to substitute him when he couldn’t cope. However, our own keeper kept quiet so we believed all was well with him. In the end, he conceded the goals. When we conceded the first goal, everything changed dramatically and we started losing our composure. And to make matters worse, our captain lost the first penalty and that added pressure on his team mates. So it was a terrible evening for Kano Pillars.
After giving massive support to the team, the government and people of Kano State would certainly be disappointed by the failure of Pillars to win their first Aiteo Cup....
That is not in doubt at all. Like I said before we are all disappointed by the outcome of the final. It is not what we planned for. From whom much is given, much is expected so we all knew what the government was expecting from us. On behalf of my players, I want to tender our sincere apology to the government and people of Kano State. They deserve something better than what they got from us. We were given all the necessary motivation to win the trophy. The government has been there for us right from the beginning. Apart from providing our needs, our state governor kept close tab on everything we were doing, from training to matches. And when His Excellency Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna came in as Deputy Governor, the support waxed stronger. It will also interest you to know that even the former NFA chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima who is also the Executive Chairman of Kano State Sports Commission, is always with us, giving his fatherly support and advice. So we had more than enough support to win the Aiteo Cup. These are the reasons we are really sad that we couldn’t reciprocate the king gestures of the government and people of Kano State.
Some people are of the view that Pillars would have won, if the players had received the necessary technical input from the bench. What is your take on this?
Well, I am not trying to exonerate myself but we did the best we could under the circumstances we found ourselves in. However, since a coach is said to be as good as his last match, many people may not like to see the positive contributions I made to the team. We really had a tricky situation on our hands. Substitutions are not done haphazardly. You cannot change a defender for a striker or a striker for a defender. Two of our defenders fell down and said they won’t be able to continue. We had to replace them with defenders. A midfielder also got injured and had to be replaced by a player in that position. You can imagine our situation having to make three substitutions in like three minutes. Even at that we kept telling the boys to remain focused. They couldn’t hold their nerves firmly and that was why Rangers got back into the match. As the head of the technical crew, it is natural for me to be handed the blame for the defeat.
Another controversial issue is the allegation in some quarters that some of the players particularly those of Igbo extraction who were substituted as a result of injuries betrayed the team. Do you suspect anything fishy?
Honestly, I do not want to speak on this because there is no sufficient evidence that something like that happened. These are professional players so there is no reason for them to indulge in such unprofessional act. However, after the match, I addressed the entire team and I told the players that if anybody has betrayed Kano Pillars, God knows. I reminded them that the club has been good to everyone. The players know what they would have got, if they had won the trophy. I am sure by now they would have been talking of brand new cars, houses and cash rewards. It is a collective loss so we are not blaming anyone for anything that happened. We failed as a team.
With what has happened, how confident are you that Kano State government will continue to give its unflinching support to the club?
I have no iota of doubt in my mind that the government will continue to support us. Let me inform you that as we speak, I am at the airport to fly with the team to Abuja. From Abuja we shall take another flight to Kano. This is to tell you that our government is ready to sustain the support we have been enjoying. Even this morning (Thursday), our Deputy Governor came to encourage us. He promised government’s continued support for the team.
What is the way forward for Kano Pillars?
The way forward now is to get younger players who are talented, courageous and committed to our dreams of winning laurels. Pillars will go for young players who would be able to last the distance. There is no need recruiting older players who are prone to injuries. Such players play one or two matches and are out.