‘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

Weekly Trust - - Trust Sports - David Ngobua

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.

Ibrahim Musa

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