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
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.