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Mustapha Ibrahim: Wikki Tourists are not going to be relegated

How satisfied are you with your club’s performance in the season that is about to end?  To be honest with you, I cannot pretend that…

How satisfied are you with your club’s performance in the season that is about to end? 

To be honest with you, I cannot pretend that all is well with the club. I am not very satisfied with our performance because we are not where we should be on the table. Last season we did very well and even played continental football. Unfortunately, we have not been able to build on that success and today we are struggling to escape relegation. Things are not looking good and it is a source of concern to each and every one of us in Wikki Tourists.

What can you say is responsible for the poor performance of Wikki Tourists this season?

The reason is not hard to find. We are not consistent in our performance. We have not been able to get good results on the road. Most of the points we have in our account were won at home and this is not encouraging. Since the beginning of the season we were able to get only one away draw and that was against FC IfeanyiUbah. This is not good enough. We are not consistent. This is what has kept us down the ladder.

With four matches left to play, do you see Wikki Tourists escaping relegation?

Of course we can survive. Don’t forget that we have a new management that is doing everything humanly possible for the team to remain in the topflight. And if you look at our performance in this second round, you will agree with me that we have improved. We are not giving up because with two home and two away matches, there is hope for us. 

What would you say the new management has done to turn things around for the club?

I want to say kudos to the management committee because they have made the welfare of the players a thing of priority. Consequently, the players are better motivated and are willing to give their best to save the club from relegation. They are people who have spent years in football administration so they know how to handle matters. Apart from taking care of players’ welfare, the management also hired a seasoned coach who is now in charge of the technical bench. Coach Bala Nyiku is an experienced coach and he has really brought us the much needed team spirit.

In concrete terms what would you say the coach has done that is yielding the much desired results?

To be honest Coach Bala is doing his best. He has handled so many clubs in the league and in the process he has garnered enough experience. Such experience is helping us. However, to be very specific, when he arrived, he immediately provided a level playing field for everyone. Team selection is based on merit and he has re-awakened the unity that existed in the team. We are now like a family that is united against relegation. Anyone who is selected to play gives his best and even those who are not playing pray for the team to win. These are some of the things that have given me the confidence that we would survive this fight. He is ready to give everything he has to ensure we are not relegated. As a matter of fact if not for the ugly incident in our home match against Rangers, by now we would have moved up. We have two home and two away matches and the last match is against Gombe United. It may interest you to know that Gombe United are also deep inside relegation zone so we can go there and give everything to win and survive. It will not be easy but they have never found us easy and being the final match, we shall do everything possible to win.

You sound so confident but from the recent behaviour of Wikki Tourists supporters, it is clear that they are losing hope. Is this good for team spirit?

It is not at all but I understand how they are feeling. No true supporter would want to see his or her team at the bottom of the table. It is an unfortunate situation but if they were a bit patient we would have beaten Rangers. That was not the first time we went behind but ended up winning the match. It happened in our home match against Sunshine Stars but we equalised and scored the winning goal in the second half. Against Rangers we were pressing them and I believe they would have surrendered but some fans didn’t wait. They gave up hope and threw objects into the field and that cost us the three points. We would have beaten Rangers no two ways about it. I want to say here that any fan who attacks match officials or visiting team is not a true supporter of his club. 

What message do you have for true supporters of Wikki Tourists?

They must not give up. We are doing everything possible to avoid relegation but we need their unflinching support to stay up. Even when we are playing and the goals are not coming, they should keep supporting us. True supporters are always the 12th player on the field.

What is your assessment of officiating in this season?

Compared to past seasons, I can say the referees are doing their best. Apart from the match against Rangers and our away match against Rivers United, I do not have much to complain about officiating. Although mistakes are made, we shouldn’t forget that referees are also human beings. They are not God. We enjoyed good officiating in our match against FC IfeanyiUbah in Nnewi and in Uyo against Akwa United. And against Rivers United the referee made a mistake but later opened the game and we almost got a good result there.

Which match would you say has been the most disappointing for you this season?

The match we lost that pained me so much is our match against MFM in Lagos. We almost beat them if not because of the mistake the referee made by giving them an off side goal. Even at that we would have won the match, if not for hard luck.

Which of the matches would you say is the best for you?

Our best match is definitely the one against Abia Warriors at home and our match against FC IfeanyiUbah in Nnewi. We did very well in both matches and got acceptable results that have given us hope for survival.

Ibrahim one final word from you on Wikki’s relegation fight….

I am very sure that Wikki won’t go on relegation again. The government and new management are doing their best and we the players are giving them all the necessary support. Even the loss in Katsina was as result of some mistakes which we have since corrected. We went back to the drawing board and are ready to fight to the end.

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