-Sets High Targets For Rangers
Rangers International of Enugu’s high-flying head coach, Imama Amapakabo has unearthed some secrets of his amazing success with the Coal City club, which has taken them very close to breaking a barren run of lack of silverware in over 30 years on the domestic scene. In this interview compiled by SportsDay’s Port Harcourt correspondent, BIBIAN ONWUGBOLU, Imama opens up on the line of factors that have seen him emerge from an almost unfancied goalkeeper with the Golden Eaglets of 1985 into one of Nigeria’s most promising football coaches, and says it is mostly because he does not like playing second fiddle…
Question: Tell us a bit about yourself. Your middle name, Leaky, sounds Ghanaian; do you have Ghanaian roots?
Answer: yes my mum is a Ghanaian while my Dad is a Nigerian from Okrika in Rivers State. I grew up on the streets of Port Harcourt township and had all my growing up there and school too.
Question: For a man with huge depth with words tell us a bit about your family and schooling sir?
Answer: I come from a very large family am the last of 6 kids from my mum, had all and holds a certificate from marketing. I had all my education in Rivers State and holds certificate in marketing?
Question: Thank you; now we would like to know how you got into football, give us some of the history…
Answer: I played football on the streets like any other child growing up. To me it was just for fun, but I think am just blessed to make it in the game, because I never ever willed to take football as a career but the more I run away from it the more I get blessed. I Was fortunate to have seemed from school to play in a YSFON completion as a form 3 student and was blessed to have been voted best youth goalkeeper of d tournament and from there I was invited into the Golden Eaglets’ camp and was part of the team that won the maiden edition in China ‘85.
Question: Was that a part of any regrets you have in your career?
Answer: Yeah you can say that again. I was in camp until the commandant of Air Force Military School asked we returned to Jos and for me that is my biggest regret.
Question: From a goalkeeper trainer to Head Coach, what prompted this? Also how where you able to overcome the challenge of you colleagues looking down on you as a goalkeeper trainer before you here? Accessing yourself now, are you a better Head Coach than a goalkeeper trainer?
Answer: Never started as a goalkeeper trainer. I started out as assistant to Coach Kadiri Ikhana in Sharks FC along the line cos I was a goalkeeper when I played I was asked to train goalkeepers.
Question: Having coached 3 different clubs now, how will you describe Nigerian players in terms of tactics learning and game reading?
Answer: I’ve always known what I wanted as a coach and have never been bothered about what people say. I refused to attend courses for goalkeeper trainer and all the courses I did were for full time coaching. I even refused to accept an offer to be a goalkeeper trainer with the CHAN Eagles in 2009. It’s always tough for players to interpret tactics in Nigeria, because we play different tactics from one coach to another.
Question: Going forward do you see Super Eagles job affecting your team next season?
Answer: Personally I think it’ll be easier for our players if we have a uniformed tactics as a nation but formation and style will differ as it obtains in most climes?
Question: Talking tactics now you think to have a uniformed tactics as a nation would help?
Answer: Yes of course. Having a uniformed tactics is like having a culture or tradition that way we don’t need to camp players for endless months trying t OK make them understand each other
Question: What is your take on defending and playing style making players come to terms with your ambition?
Answer: It all boils down to what we teach our players from the cradle (academy) cos if they are taught the basics in terms of techniques we won’t struggle with such issues at the higher levels but right now what happens is we start teaching these basics at the highest level of our football.
Questions: How did you feel when President Buhari gave them reward after 30 years?
Answer: Being remembered on its own was enough for me not to forget we had a reunion for us was the greatest gift we can ever get after 30yrs
Question: What are his experience he got from Spain and now working with à German?
Answer: My philosophy about football is somewhat Spanish and Dutch based laced with a little bit of the work ethics of the German football so in all I Think everything is falling in place for me and am better of fit it. Personally watching the Spanish team play up close and understanding their tactical roles was exciting.
Question: what has been your greatest challenge in the coaching field and also in Rangers international FC (The traditional Club)?
Answer: My biggest challenge is people underrating my abilities and changing the mentality of people that are used to believing that coming second fiddle is good enough.
Question: How have you being coping working with national Team and club side What are the differences?
Answer: I think first is everybody around me knows I want to win, and I don’t make excuses for failures but I accept it and move on to correct it.
Question: I noticed you play potentially a great formation in His 352 and 361 but the players did not adapt well to it and our players seem incapable of learning what say you?
Answer: First I think you must understand what you want as a coach and build YOU not any OTHER person. Be patient open yourself to as much knowledge in the good and bad and never ever stop learning.
Question: what is your coaching philosophy sir?
Answer: Speed, value for the ball and mobility.
Question: I also note you have imbibed SAC into your team… . You’ve tinkered Rangers with great results this season. Do you see yourself doing a Sir Alex Ferguson at Rangers or do you someday wish to lead you State team, Rivers United again?
Answer: I’m a professional and like to think that I live and function where I feel comfortable for as long as I think or am wanted. I also to like to walk when the ovation is loudest. Rivers United not on my radar right now maybe into my retirement.