Head coach of Julius Atete Football Club of Delta state, Harry Blankson is very confident his team will qualify from the Gombe zone of the 2018 AITEO Cup group stage in spite of the threat posed by their three Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) oppositions.
Julius Atete, a team campaigning in the second tier of Nigerian Football League, the NNL have have surprised many in their participation in the AITEO Cup in 2017 and now 2018. They eliminated NPFL sides Rivers United and FC Ifeanyiubah in 2017 and 2018 respectively but they will have their work cut out at the Patani Stadium in Gombe.
They will face Katsina United, Plateau United and CAF Confederation Cup hopeful Enyimba starting from Wednesday, September 26 but Blankson is unfazed by the prospects of his opponents.
“For the fact that we are playing in the same group that has three NPFL teams is not a problem for me. I don’t think we are scared of that group,” Blankson told www.aclsports.com
“It is really what we were expecting and thank God we got it. We believe we will come out of that group,” he added.
Blankson’s side are one of just three remaining lower division sides among the last sixteen teams in this year’s competition. Their other contemporaries; Kogi United and Supreme Court FC held top division opponents to 0-0 draws in Aba and Kano respectively on Monday.
Blankson is hoping his side will draw inspiration from them.
“The fact that Kogi United and Supreme Court had draws in their first games has given us some morale booster. We will be going into our games with confidence that we can get something from our games too,” he added.
The schedule in Gombe has been packed for three days between Wednesday and Friday after Blankson’s team as well as Enyimba’s engagements last weekend meant they could not get to the North Eastern city before Monday. Blankson insists his side will do their best despite the far distance covered.
“We were not expecting to be taken to that far distance to Gombe but we thank God we are there and we will do our best to make sure we come out brightly in that group,” concluded the former international.
J. Atete will get the Group action underway on Wednesday morning when they face 2017 league champions Plateau United at 8’o clock in the morning with the second game coming up at 10am between Enyimba and Katsina United.