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Azeez Falolu: Other NPFL clubs now dread Katsina United

A box-to-box midfielder, Azeez Olamilekan Falolu, has said following their new found form, rival clubs in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) now fear to…

A box-to-box midfielder, Azeez Olamilekan Falolu, has said following their new found form, rival clubs in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) now fear to play against Katsina United. In this interview with Trust Sports, the former Akwa United player spoke on Katsina United’s ambition in the current campaign, the recent victory over Kano Pillars and what to expect in the next match against Lobi Stars.

How happy are you with Katsina United’s latest victory over Kano Pillars?

I am very very happy and I want to dedicate the victory to God almighty that made it possible. It was not an easy match because Pillars are among the best clubs in Nigeria. I am also happy that after my first goal in the first round, I didn’t score again but I scored my second goal against our arch rivals, Kano Pillars. It was a memorable moment for me and Katsina United.

What was the atmosphere in Katsina before the match?

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The atmosphere was cool and calm but we could feel the tension because it is one of the biggest derbies in the NPFL. I am happy that there was enough security before, during and after the match. Unlike what used to happen, this particular fixture ended without any ugly incident. I give kudos to the fans of both clubs.

Katsina United are seventh on the log. Is it too early to begin to dream of a first NPFL title?

I won’t pretend. We are all dreaming of the title because the gap between the top three clubs and Katsina United is not much. It is just three or four points. So, I think we are going to make it by the special grace of God. We want to end with at least a continental ticket.

What would you say is responsible for the resurgence in Katsina United?

It is the support from the fans and the management down to the players. We are all united and committed to the success of the club. We are yet to win the NPFL title so everything humanly possible is being done by our sponsors for us to get something this time.

You have played under three different coaches in the current season. How difficult was it for you and your teammates to adjust to their football philosophies?

It was not easy but we are all professionals, so we had to adjust to the new challenges. A professional is not supposed to be rigid. He has to be flexible. Life itself is dynamic so one has to be amenable to change. So, what we did was to listen to the coaches and play the way they asked us to play in order to achieve results. It was not easy but gradually we adjusted.

Which of the 22 matches played so far was the most difficult for Katsina United?

Our most difficult match was the one against Rangers. Officiating was not the best but we managed the game and earned a crucial away point. I am happy that things are getting better in the NPFL. I am sure that as we continue, things will get even better.

Which of the matches would you say is your best so far?

It is hard to decide because I always give my best in all matches. However, I will say that the match against Sunshine Stars in Akure was one of my best. I always play with my heart and everything so all the matches are dear to me.

You said you have scored two goals. Which of them is better?

Like I said, I have scored two goals this season. The first was the header against the Abia Warriors when they were leading us. The second is the one I scored in our last match against Pillars. It was another beautiful header. I can say the one against Pillars is better. It was on a big stage and the goal contributed to the important victory.

Some people may say you are ‘vertically challenged’ but considering that you scored the goals with your head, how did you manage to do it?

I know I am not among the tallest players in the NPFL but I have the ability to lift up very well. Only a few taller opponents win aerial battles against me. The way I go up in the air to contest the ball with opponents sometimes amazes me. So, nobody should be surprised that I am scoring goals with my head.

How long do you intend to play for Katsina United?

I am enjoying my stay in Katsina United but I am not planning to stay longer than necessary. Every professional player’s dream is to get a better deal elsewhere. My dream is to play abroad so if something comes up at the end of the current season, I will be glad to leave my present club for greener pastures. However, I will forever be a part of Katsina United’s family.

What do you have to say about the fans of Katsina United?

They are simply amazing. Right from the playoff where we picked one of the NPFL tickets, they have been with us. Even when we were not at our best at the start of the season, they didn’t give up on us. They are always the 12th player in the stands propelling us to victory. When they call our names on top of their voices, we are motivated to put in our best. The way they turned out for our match against Kano Pillars was a spectacle to behold. I will definitely miss the fans anytime I leave the club.

What is your experience with road trips to honour away matches?

It is not easy at all, I won’t lie. Imagine we travelled to Ilorin and played on Saturday. After the match, we travelled for two days back to Katsina. We arrived and the following day, we went for training because we had a mid-week match. Just imagine that we arrived in Katsina on Monday, trained on Tuesday and played on Wednesday. Then we have another match on Sunday against Lobi Stars, so we have to be on the road again. It is so stressful. To make it worse, the roads we traverse are in terrible conditions. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. Some clubs in the NPFL travel by air but we don’t have such opportunities, so we go by road all the time.

Your next match is against Lobi Stars. What are your expectations?

Lobi Stars denied us victory in Katsina so it is payback time. We are going for either a win or draw. I am not expecting anything less than that. We either win or draw. The interesting thing is that most of the clubs that once underrated Katsina United are now afraid of us. They now see us as a threat to their ambition. They see us as title contenders. So, we won’t allow Lobi Stars to escape with the maximum points in Lafia.

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