Boboye’s United success: A clear case of MMM

Boboye’s United success: A clear case of MMM

Less than two weeks ago, Plateau United were crowned the Nigeria Professional League Champions. We continue our celebration of their achievement this time with the title winning coach, Kennedy Boboye.

To many people, the success of newly crowned Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions Plateau United is a story of an unnoticed squirrel who climbed to the pinnacle of a palm tree way before its much fancied contemporaries woke up to the race ahead.

Rivals prayed in vain for a Wind from the East to bring a miraculous slip to its callow feet instead, it grew stronger and tougher in the middle of the battle and echoes of its victorious canticles reverberates beyond the thick forest and into the heart of man.

No league pundit looked towards the team from Nigeria’s sometimes coldest city for the title. The preparations were so unassuming although the appointment of Kennedy Boboye as coach attracted some media attention to the side. Boboye had cannily denied his links with United on social media just days to his unveiling.

The rest is history! Stories have been rewritten, the record book has been opened and Boboye, the hitherto called ‘Half-way bottler’ has landed his first title as a coach – had quite a number as a player too. As someone who played in the Nigerian league in his hey days, Kennedy Akinboboye (to spell out his full initial) saw the possibility of greatness in his team right from the onset.

In this chat to’s FISAYO DAIRO, the Ondo-born ‘Port Harcourt Boy’ recalls fondly how his team achieved their well-planned success, knowing that success is a journey, gives us a hint into how Plateau United will be next season.

Resolution for the season

United won their first game of the season at Remo Stars, a newly promoted side who promptly returned from whence they came (Nigerian National League) at the end of the season.

What followed that springboard of a result was a short unbeaten sequence which was ended by Akwa United on Match Day 8, a 1–2 defeat at the Nest of Champions in Uyo

“We had an agreement with the players that in every five games, we want to get fifteen points and if we could not get fifteen points we should get 13 points,” the former Sunshine Stars coach said of his team’s resolution.

“That was our motto and I think it took us far because winning against Remo alone wasn’t just the problem but how to keep the momentum was our biggest plan and which we did.”

Motivation – The governor’s hand

Without sugarcoating things, the impact of money in modern day football cannot be overemphasized. Running a sport team without enough financial backing has always been likened to running a car without fuel.

A Nigerian motivator once spoke on the importance of “MMM” – Money, Men and Materials – in organizational success. The monetary aspect for United was fully covered.

“What kind of support would any team want when the number one citizen of the state promises that he is not going to owe you a dime?” asked the former Sharks FC striker.

“As I speak now, Plateau United is not owing anybody one naira! They pay salaries as and when due and they pay match bonuses on the spot. So, I believe that was the highest motivation that kept us moving.”

“The governor was our backbone!” he metaphorically affirmed.

Using the Rangers template

After the loss to Akwa United on Match Day 8, there was a need for Boboye to bring back his wards from the disappointment and ensure they do not lose focus on their ambition.

His charge to his players who virtually had little or no previous title-winning experiences was to draw inference from 2016 champions, Rangers, who had Boboye’s close friend, Imama Amapakabo as coach.

“I gave them the instance of Rangers that won the league last season. Rangers had only 3 players that are experienced and have played in previous (title winning) clubs in the team. But the young men came and held their own.

“It is doable if we want to work towards that kind of thing. If you have the determination and you are disciplined I believe it was going to take us there. I spoke to them and they saw reasons with me and they started working in earnest with me after the (Akwa) game.”


We didn’t win the league (at Sharks) but I think things we are doing now is what he (Sinclair) taught us way back and coupled with the fact that I also played outside the country for about 15 years.


Daniel Itodo’s influence on the team play

To achieve success with a team limited in abilities, Boboye did the unconventional, making use of left back Daniel Itodo’s outrageous talent at executing long throws to harm his opponents.

“In Plateau United, we don’t have a highest goalscorer. Everybody that finds himself in front of goal does the business. It’s just like when you find yourself at the back in terms of defending, you do the defending. That is the most important thing.”

Itodo created eight direct assists through his special skill while having a hand in six other goals, contributing close to 30% of United’s total goal haul of 49 in the season.

“Itodo’s long throw is part of the programme. It’s part of our own style. These are part of the things we do in training and it’s not a new thing to any player. If we can’t utilize our own style of play, it means we are giving the opponents opportunity to overcome us in our own home,” he stressed.

On Amapakabo and influence of Monday Sinclair

The last two league titles in Nigeria have been won by these two friends who have less than five years of experience in handling top jobs in the country.

Many saw these two as the future of coaching in Nigeria when Boboye was at Sunshine Stars and Amapakabo was being elevated as head coach at Rangers late 2015. Both played for the well respected football coach Monday Sinclair, Nigeria’s version of Johan Cryuff and are now blossoming in his philosophy.

“Imama (Amapakabo) and I have come a long way. We are friends, both Port Harcourt guys, played together in (defunct) Sharks and I think we have almost the same philosophy because we played under a Professor which is Monday Sinclair.

“We didn’t win the league (at Sharks) but I think things we are doing now is what he (Sinclair) taught us way back and coupled with the fact that I also played outside the country for about 15 years. I have gathered much in my experience to know things I want to achieve if I am in the business of coaching. Imama too has a good future because he is a brilliant young man that has aspired to get to where he is today as a determined person,” added Boboye.

“The governor is behind us. I believe winning the league alone is not the problem, they want to see how we can go high in the Champions League as well.”

United’s quest for a double

There is an unprecedented achievement available in Nigerian football to which Kennedy Boboye may even not be conscious of. Victory in the AITEO Cup will make him the first Nigerian to win a league and cup double as a player and coach.

On his return home after his playing career in Europe, Boboye was part of the Dolphins side which clinched the league and cup double in 2004 under the tutelage of late coach, Musa Abdullahi.

“Everybody’s hand is on deck pertaining to the victory. As we’re speaking now, we are done and dusted with the league title. We are now thinking about the Challenge Cup (now called AITEO Cup).

“We just have to work hard and be disciplined the way we have been. There’s nothing new in it. I’ve done it as a player before so it would be something great if I can do it as a coach too.”

United have been drawn against fellow NPFL side Niger Tornadoes in the quarter final ties to be decided this week.

Plateau state Governor, Solomon Lalong hoisting the NPFL trophy

Going forward…

It has become an irritant norm in the NPFL for clubs to record huge number of players turnovers at the start of each new season. One of the teams that represented Nigeria in CAF competitions in 2017, Rivers United signed no fewer than fifteen new players at the start of the season.

We sought to ask Boboye if such should be expected from his team next season.

“That won’t be in Plateau State,” he interjected.

“In Plateau United, we will just look for some few quality players that can play dual roles in the team. We don’t have more than six players to inject in our team and we continue like that. We will take players especially in areas we think we have problems and not just to bring players to come and sleep,” he added.

There are also talks about the possibility of the team moving from the old-fashioned Rwang Pam Stadium to a newer, bigger edifice. Boboye has no problems in moving with the team too.

“The new stadium is still in Plateau state. It is in Jos and that is where we just finished our training this morning and that’s where we do train whenever we have an away game on a synthetic pitch.”

“The governor is behind us. I believe winning the league alone is not the problem, they want to see how we can go high in the Champions League as well.”

Boboye is confident, determined and of strong belief in his team, a double is not impossible.

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