Sun­day Ak­leche:

IV Lobi Stars in­spi­ra­tional mid­fielder, Sun­day Ak­leche has said his team boast of qual­ity play­ers who will pro­pel the ‘pride of Benue’ to this year’s Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Foot­ball League ti­tle. He ex­plained to SHOT! how Lobi Stars are fo­cused on win­ning t

Weekly Trust - - Interview - David Ngobua obi Stars are cur­rently on top of the NPFL ta­ble. How happy are you with this per­for­mance? In con­crete terms what is the tar­get for Lobi Stars this sea­son? What is it that you are do­ing dif­fer­ently this time to meet the tar­get you have set f

LI am very ex­cited be­cause it has been our de­sire. Even last sea­son we did very well just that we lost it along the way. How­ever, for this sea­son we have been up and do­ing and by the grace of God I be­lieve that we are not go­ing to miss our tar­get again. I am re­ally sat­is­fied with what we have done so far.

Our tar­get this sea­son is not just to win a con­ti­nen­tal ticket. We want to win the league ti­tle and we are not pre­tend­ing about it. I be­lieve we have the qual­ity to be cham­pi­ons of the Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Foot­ball League. We are not go­ing to rest on our oars. We know that the league is a marathon so we won’t get car­ried away by the present re­sults.

We have agreed to keep aside any forms of dis­trac­tion. We want to re­main fo­cused. We want noth­ing but the ti­tle and we be­lieve that all other things will come. When Je­sus Christ was teach­ing his dis­ci­ples, he said seek ye first the king­dom of God and all other things will be added to you. We want to win the league first.

They have been do­ing their best but it is God that is do­ing it for us. We have re­solved to sup­port one an­other in the fight for the league ti­tle. There is unity of pur­pose in the team and I be­lieve this is mostly what is push­ing us for­ward.

Not re­ally, I won’t say it is my best sea­son but I be­lieve this is the sea­son I will get what I have been pur­su­ing for all this years. This is my fourth sea­son in Lobi Stars so I want to win my first league ti­tle with the club this year.

The match was good and not that dif­fi­cult but the goal didn’t come when we ex­pected it. You know that when you are playing at home, ex­pec­ta­tions are usu­ally high. It was not an easy match but we thank God we fi­nally got the goal that gave us the im­por­tant vic­tory.

It will still be the match against Kano Pil­lars be­cause it helped us con­sol­i­date on our po­si­tion on top of the ta­ble. The vic­tory over Pil­lars has given us more com­fort and con­fi­dence at the top.

I am con­fi­dent we won’t be de­throned be­cause if you look at our re­sults so far you will dis­cover that we played dou­ble away and picked four points in the two matches. And we still have our dou­ble home in the sec­ond round. Apart from that we don’t look very much at who is com­ing af­ter us. We care more about what we are do­ing. We only en­sure that we win ev­ery game that we play. We would be dis­tracted, if we keep look­ing across our shoul­ders to see who is chas­ing us.

It is not an is­sue. I see ev­ery­body as be­ing of the same height and size with me. When I get to the field, I don’t see any­body as be­ing taller and big­ger than me. It is in the heart and not in the size. That is what in­spires me to win even ae­rial bat­tles against taller op­po­nents. I don’t al­low any­body’s height or size to in­tim­i­date me.

I love at­tack­ing so it is only when I get to op­po­nents’ de­fence that I meet tough op­po­nents. So I can say my tough­est op­po­nent is any player who tries to stop me when I am at­tack­ing. I can’t sin­gle out any player. I give my best and I don’t look at other op­po­nents.

Although I am from Benue State, I was born and bred in Kaduna. So af­ter I was done playing youth foot­ball in Kaduna, I moved to ABS FC in Ilorin. From ABS, I moved to Sun­shine Stars. It was from Sun­shine Stars that I joined Lobi Stars. I ac­tu­ally came to lime­light in my present club.

It was not easy. Like most par­ents, they wanted me to con­cen­trate on my stud­ies. How­ever, I would al­ways sneak out of class to play and even at­tend youth tour­na­ments. Any­time I re­turned home, I would be beaten thor­oughly but I per­sisted. When they dis­cov­ered that I have pas­sion and the tal­ent, they al­lowed me.

I be­lieve I am tal­ented and pas­sion­ate about the game. My sec­ond sport would still be foot­ball. I can’t play any other sport. Foot­ball has been my life. I have ben­e­fit­ted im­mensely from foot­ball.

I have gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence from them. Tyavkase and Itodo are amaz­ing guys. They don’t feel too im­por­tant. De­spite their achieve­ments in the game, they don’t raise their shoul­ders high. They serve as role mod­els to the younger play­ers in the team.

I don’t in­tend to stay too long but I can­not leave Lobi Stars for any other club in the NPFL. If I am leav­ing, it should be to seek greener pas­tures abroad. It is my dream to play in Europe.

I will be okay with any bet­ter club in Europe. I have not been there but I be­lieve most clubs in Europe are bet­ter or­gan­ised.

My role model will al­ways be Ronald­inho of Brazil. I can say he is a com­plete foot­ball player. He has the skills, the strength and all the mo­ti­va­tion that I need. He is a leg­end of the game. When­ever I watch him, I feel highly mo­ti­vated.

The league has improved in so many ways. It is grow­ing ev­ery year. If you have been fol­low­ing it you must have no­ticed that there is im­prove­ment in of­fi­ci­at­ing and gen­eral or­gan­i­sa­tion. Those or­gan­is­ing the league are try­ing. They are do­ing their best.

I think we need to im­prove in the area of play­ers’ wel­fare. There are some clubs that don’t make life easy for the play­ers. It is not all the clubs any­way. How­ever, if you get to some clubs, you will hear play­ers com­plain­ing that they have not been paid for up to four to five months. This kills play­ers’ morale.

It is to­tally wrong. No mat­ter what hap­pen, the fans shouldn’t have taken the laws into their hands. It is giv­ing the league a bad name. I just hope one day, God will touch the hearts of those who are be­hind such bar­baric acts for them to know that foot­ball is not war. It is just a game that is meant to en­ter­tain and unite us.

I be­lieve there are still qual­ity play­ers in the league but when you are not there you can’t say what re­ally hap­pened. I be­lieve the clubs should know bet­ter why they didn’t go fur­ther than this stage. Since I wasn’t there, I can’t use their per­for­mance to judge the league. I don’t know why our clubs are not do­ing very well in the con­ti­nent. I have not tasted it so I can’t re­ally say why it is so. I hope to be there at the end of this sea­son so that I will know how best to an­swer your ques­tion.

Lobi Stars mid­fielder, Sun­day Ak­leche in ac­tion dur­ing a league match at the Aper Aku sta­dium Makurdi.

Satur­day, April 28, 2018

Sun­day Ak­leche

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