Head coach of reigning AITEO Cup champions Akwa United, Abdu Maikaba says his team must be ready to break down teams who have resorted to “park-the-bus” tactics against his free-scoring side if they hope to successfully defend their title.
Maikaba’s team were in blistering form at the start of this year’s AITEO Cup tournament, beating NLO side Hope of Glory 7-0 before following it up with a 5-2 spanking of NNL side Aklosendi in the round of 32 in Enugu.
The goals seemed to dry up during their group stage campaign in Aba although United won their opening two games by 1-0 scoreline before a much changed side succumbed 2-0 to Nasarawa United in the final group game.
“We know that at this level of the competition, it is going to be tough and any team playing against Akwa now, you will see, they park the bus all the time,” explained Maikaba to www.aclsports.com
“You see a minimum of eight players behind the ball always so it is difficult. But we have to go back to the drawing board, work a lot on such areas and I believe we will recover from the shock loss to Nasarawa,” added the former Wikki Tourists coach.
Having finished second in Group D, Akwa United have made the trip to the northern city of Kano to face Enugu Rangers in their quarterfinal clash on Wednesday. Maikaba’s side have been hotly tipped to go as far as retaining the trophy and the school teacher insists that such notion has not got into their heads.
“We are not complacent. We are all out to win these games, we lost on Friday because it was not our day and we gave away the two goals. We know our problem, we have sat down to rectify them and we will do better in the quarter final on Wednesday.”
Rangers failed to beat Akwa United during the league season with Maikaba’s wards drawing in Enugu after their opening day victory in Uyo against the Flying Antelopes. Maikaba is hoping that his foreknowledge of the Rangers side can count as an advantage for his team on Wednesday.
“We are in this competition to face any team that will come our way so we are ready to face Rangers. The good side of it is that I have an idea of them and how they play, that should help us a lot to come out in flying colours on Wednesday,” Maikaba submitted.
The duel between Akwa United and Rangers is billed for the Sani Abacha Stadium (SAS) in Kano and it is one of the four quarter-final pairings for this year’s competition. Kwara United will also face Katsina United in Lagos on the same day while Nasarawa United will be up against El-Kanemi Warriors on Thursday in Aba.