Akwa United head coach Abdu Maikaba has attributed his team’s failure to finish in the top 3 of the just concluded Nigeria Professional Football League season to “lack of concentration from the actors” in his team.
After looking good for at least a 3rd place finish and a spot to represent Nigeria in continental competitions in 2018, Akwa United fell short in the end, finishing just a point behind 3rd place finishers Enyimba, despite a comprehensive 3-0 bashing of Kano Pillars on the league’s final day.
It amounted to great disappointment for the team which earned a lot of rave reviews during the season for their lovely brand of football. Maikaba in a chat to www.aclsports.com however knows where they got it wrong.
“Actually, our greatest challenge most especially in the second round of the season was a lack of concentration from the actors, the players,” began the school teacher.
“National team assignments, thinking of contracts outside the country I believe have dragged us back a little. Without them (the players) we tried to play some games and continued to push without them.”
Two key players left the team for more lucrative European adventures. Winger Moses Ebiye joined Norwegian side Lillestrom while the team’s arguably most influential star, Alhassan Ibrahim joined Austrian side Austria Wien during the course of the season.
Asides the duo, United had no fewer than four players invited to Nigeria’s home based Super Eagles in their quest for an eventual qualification for next year’s African Nations Championships and now, five of their players have flown with the team to Ghana for the West African Football Union (WAFU) cup.
Despite falling short on their target, Maikaba believes his team have not failed and will focus all energies on the AITEO Cup in which they are in the round of sixteen already.
“I believe we did not fail. We played a wonderful season and we will concentrate now on the competition that we are in,” he concluded.
Musa Newman, Michael Ibe Okoro and Christian Pyagbara who was also away in Europe for playing trials at a time this season scored for United in their final league game against Kano Pillars on Saturday.
Akwa United will host Shooting Stars on Wednesday in the round of 16 match of the AITEO Cup and are expected to be without the WAFU Cup quintuplet of Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Aremu Afeez, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, Ubong Friday and Gabriel Okechukwu.