Enyimba FC forward, Ibrahim Mustapha has said his side’s last league match with Katsina United is a do- or die affair. He said it is a must win match because only victory will give them a continental ticket. The former El-kanemi Warriors striker also spoke on his blossoming career.
What are your expectations in your final league match against Katsina United?
Well, you know against Rangers in Enugu, we wanted to win so as to get a CAF Champions League ticket but in the end, they forced us to a 1-1 draw. So what is left is for us to win our last match in order to pick the last continental ticket. So the match against Katsina United is do-or die match. We are going to beat them convincingly. It is three points or nothing against Katsina United. I want to urge my team mates to concentrate fully on the match. Anything they want to do, let them do it after we have won the match and picked the continental ticket.
Katsina also need the points to be sure of escaping relegation. Do you think they will be easy to beat?
You know in Nigeria if a team is facing relegation, it is difficult to play against such a team. Katsina United just returned to the NPFL but they have tried and they want to stay in the topflight. It is not going to be an easy match but I do not see them stopping us. In addition, the players too want to market themselves and will give everything but they are not going to stop our continental ambition. We shall give to them the treatment we gave to El-Kanemi, Wikki Tourists and Niger Tornadoes.
Why did you leave your home club El-kanemi Warriors to join Enyimba?
I wanted new challenges. As a matter of fact, there was a time someone in El-kanemi asked me why I was still playing at home and I said the time will come when I will go out in search of bigger challenges. So I left El-kanemi in order to see if I can succeed elsewhere.
So it was not difficult for you to leave your childhood club?
It was not that easy but I had to make the best career decision. I am a professional so I need to look beyond some sentiments. Secondly my departure provided room for other young players in Borno State to come into the team. I like what the coach is doing. He is giving opportunities to talented players from the state to come into the club.
Why did you settle for Enyimba?
I decided to join Enyimba FC because of their rich history. They are the most successful club in the country and one of the best clubs in the continent. There is no player who would not like to play for Enyimba. So when they came for me, I decided to go and be part of the famous club.
Having lived your life in the north, how were you able to adjust to life in the east?
I am a Nigerian and life in Nigeria is almost the same everywhere. Moreover, I am sociable so I mix freely with everybody. So it did not take long for me to settle down. The players and the people welcomed me very well and made me feel at home. I had no problem with feeding and the weather. As a matter of fact, I am feeling as if I am in Maiduguri.
To what extent do you keep in touch with your former club El-Kanemi?
My mind is still with El-kanemi Warriors. They made me who I am at the moment. I started my professional career there and my history as a footballer cannot be complete without a mention of El-Kanemi Warriors. So whenever they win, I feel really happy and when they lose, I equally feel the pain. Most times I call my former team mates to find out why they lost some matches. I try to encourage them not to let down the club. El-kanemi Warriors will always be my club.
It means you were sad after El-Kanemi Warriors were hammered 4-0 by Enyimba…..
It was a difficult moment for me but I was happy because I am a professional and my loyalty is now with Enyimba. I remember before the match, the coach of El-Kanemi Ladan Bosso told me ‘ man wey know man na him the kill man’. I just laughed. In fact before the match, I called my former team mates Husseni Bata and small Mohammed and told them that that if they come to Calabar, we shall beat them 4-0. Like joke when they came we beat them 4-0. And they all said I am a witch. After the match, Coach Bosso teased me that if everybody had scored, I wouldn’t have scored and he repeated ‘man wey know man na him go kill am’ and we laughed over it. I couldn’t score but I played well.
How many goals have you scored this season?
You know this is my first season in Enyimba so I have scored only five goals. Last season I scored 11 goals for El-kanemi Warriors. I set a target of 15 goals but I couldn’t make it because of injuries. However, I thank God for the goals because it is not every striker in the league that has scored a goal. I have settled down now and I hope to score more goals next season.
What would you say is Enyimba’s worst match this season?
I will say our matches against El-kanemi Warriors in Maiduguri, our match against Wikki Tourists in Bauchi and the 1-1 draw we played against Gombe United in Gombe. Gombe equalised in the third minute of additional time and it was a painful moment for all of us.
What is your best match in the colours of Enyimba FC?
Definitely it was our match against Sunshine Stars of Akure in Calabar. I scored my first goal for Enyimba and that earned us the maximum points. I was satisfied with my performance.
What kind of person is Coach Gbenga Ogunbote?
I am happy that you asked me this question. He is a fantastic man, a wonderful coach who is like a father to many of us. If someone cares for you and can take you into his bedroom to advise you on life outside football, that kind of man is indeed a father. I like him and I will continue to give him and the club my best.
What is your assessment of the Nigerian league?
Our league is getting better but you cannot rule out setbacks and challenges in any human endeavour. There are still some problems here and there. I want to say that some referees are good but some are kill-joy. Even as we now see away teams winning matches, some referees insist the home teams win by all means. This is not good for the league. The League Management Company is trying but more attention should be paid to officiating.
How much would you say El-Kanemi Warriors have helped in restoring peace in Borno State?
I can say that El-kanemi Warriors have helped a great deal in this respect because the people of Borno are lovers of football. The moment El-kanemi returned to Maiduguri, most of the idle youths who would have taken to social vices found something to keep them busy. I remember one Wednesday like that there was a bomb blast at the secretariat yet in the evening the stadium was filled to capacity. It was as if nothing had happened. In Maiduguri everybody supports El-kanemi Warriors.
How much support did you enjoy from your family when you started your football career?
As a matter of fact, my father Coach Mustapha Audu is a former Chief Coach of El-Kanemi Warriors. He has been my number one supporter. He has stood by me and I always try not to let him down.
How did you come about the nick-name Yuga-Yuga?
It’s a long story. The truth of the matter is that the name was given to me by a man Abba in Maiduguri when I was very small. He called me Yuga and that was how it started. I tried to find out the meaning of the name but he kept telling me it is not time for me to know the meaning. People have been asking me to tell them the meaning of the name. When next I am in Maiduguri, I will take a gift to him and plead with him to tell me the meaning. For now, I am answering Yuga-Yuga while waiting for the meaning.
What is your favourite food?
I like eating spaghetti. I like it so much. It is my favourite food. I can eat it so many times in a day.
Why not tuwo-chinkafa?
(Laughs) No no, my favourite food is spaghetti. Tuwo Chinkafa is not bad but my favourite food will always be spaghetti.
And your favourite music…
I enjoy any Hausa music.