Maikaba, Dogo, Ogbe brace up for new challenges in NPFL
Indications are strong that the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League season will commence before the end of this month, after football governance issues forced the 2018 season to end prematurely.
A report that is yet to be confirmed by the League Management Company, LMC, stated that barring last minute hitches, the new season will kick-off on November 24.
Be that as it may, clubs are busy with preparations for the 2019 NPFL season as there is only one CAF Champions League ticket available for grab by the eventual winners of the league.
The Nigeria Football Federation’s Manager of Transfer matching System, Nasiru Jibril had announced that the first transfer window (registration period for clubs) which opened on October 20 will close on December 20.
He also said there will be second window as from 30th January 2019 until 28th February 2019.
Consequently, there have been busy movements in and out of clubs as efforts to strengthen squads are being made by the 20 NPFL clubs.
While some clubs have embarked on recruitment of tested players to improve their fortunes in the coming season, some have gone a step further by hiring new coaches to guide their teams from the dug-out.
Although there are indications that more coaches will change clubs before the commencement of the league, at the moment, only three notable tacticians, Abdul Maikaba, Kabiru Dogo and Bernard have joined their new clubs.
Maikaba who guided Akwa United to second place finish in the 2018 season has left the ‘promise keepers’ to join former champions Plateau United, former Nasarawa United coach, Kabiru Dogo has moved to Sunshine Stars while former handler of NNL side, Mighty Jets, Bernard Ogbe has pitched tent with Niger Tornadoes.
The trio are no doubt experienced coaches and expectations are high that they will bring their wealth of experience to bear on their new clubs.
Maikaba, one of the highly rated coaches in the NPFL has garnered enough experience to handle any club in the league. After he made a name with ‘unknown’ FC Abuja, the man popularly called ‘teacher’ went on to serve his home club Kano Pillars as assistant coach.
He would move on to work as assistant coach in Enyimba before joining Wikki Tourists where he led the team to top four finish back to back.
As the ovation was loudest, Maikaba refused to be held back by the whiff of continental football as he left Wikki Tourists to join Akwa United where he led the club to Aiteo Cup success in 2017.
Going by his vast experience in domestic and continental football, Maikaba is arriving on the plateau with lot of promises.
Already he has pledged to help the ambitious club to defend their league title. The implied meaning of what he is reported to have said is that as far as he is concerned, his present club are the defending champions despite the declaration of Lobi Stars as 2018 title winners.
Elsewhere in Akure, if the words of Coach Dogo are anything to go by, the Sunshine Stars of Akure who struggled to shine in the 2018 season will glow once again.
The young gaffer too has paid his dues in the NPFL and is expected to use the experience garnered in coaching ABS of Ilorin and Nasarawa United to positively impact on the ‘Akure Gunners’.
In addition, he also boasts of continental football experience with Nasarawa United. In a chat with Trust Sports, Dogo expressed optimism that the lost glory of Sunshine Stars will be restored.
“We have started preparations but by the special grace of God, we shall resume fully on Monday (November 5). We are expecting our players and technical officials in camp on that day.
“I have to hit the ground running. So the management of the club , players and other stakeholders are giving me all the support I need to succeed with the team,” he said.
Dogo also said before he settled for Sunshine Stars, he turned down at least five offers from top NPFL clubs.
He said it was God that chose Sunshine Stars for him and the same God will see him through his present assignment.
“As a matter of fact, I had at least five good offers from top clubs in the league but Sunshine Stars showed me love and greater commitment.
“Moreover, the club was picked for me by God. God told me it is the club that I will work for. It is not human being that chose the club for me.
He, therefore, promised to do everything humanly possible to bring back the lost glory of Sunshine Stars. Dogo said under him, the ‘Akure Gunners’ will shine again.
“So far we are doing everything humanly possible to bring back the lost glory of Sunshine Stars. It is team work and I believe we shall work together to lift the club again.
On possible changes in the team, he said “There is no coach who will take over a club and won’t inject few good players into the team. That is what obtains even in Europe.
“I am going to add few players to what I met on ground. The team is not bad but I am going to beef up the squad,” he assured.
Similarly, expectations are high in the camp of the ‘Ikon Allah’ boys of Minna who will be tutored in the new season by a veteran of the Nigerian league. After 18 years, Ogbe returned to Niger Tornadoes from Mighty jets of Jos.
In 1998/ 99 season, he guided the club to third place in the FA cup now rebranded Aiteo cup and in the following year, he won Tornadoes’ first and only Federation Cup trophy.
The Benue State born football tactician who staged a comeback with Mighty Jets after being away for so many years had coached Lobi Stars, Enyimba FC and Gombe United.
By his profile, Ogbe is expected to do even better than Hamza Abara who successfully navigated Tornadoes away from relegation when he was appointed in acting capacity following the sack of Erasmus Onuh.
When approached by Trust Sports to speak on his mission in Niger Tornadoes, Ogbe declined to say much as he insisted that he is not ‘a media coach’.
By this he meant he is not the type of coach who makes ‘noise’ on the pages of newspaper as he said he allows his achievements to speak for him.
However, a close ally of the coach told our reporter that Ogbe is silently working on the team. “He is not making noise but he is doing a lot to transform the team.
“He is not new to the club so he knows the expectations and what is expected of him. I believe if he is given all the necessary support, Ogbe will once again succeed with Niger Tornadoes,” he said.
In view of the above, so much is expected from the seasoned coaches who have left their former teams to go in search of laurels with their new clubs.
Former Nasarawa United coach, Kabiru Dogo dishing out instructions to his players.
Newly appointed Plateau United coach, Abdul Maikaba