The mood following the final game of the 2016/2017 season was a celebratory one, as Enyimba sealed a place in the CAF Confederation Cup next season. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote fielded questions in the wake of the 1-0 victory over Katsina United in Calabar, and was full of appreciation while reflecting on a gruelling season.
Below are excerpts:
Credit for a productive season
It's not just about the (Head) Coach. I am thankful to the management, the government releasing the funds, the coaches, the players, the supporters, the fans, and of course the good people of Cross River state. We cannot but appreciate everybody. It is a win for all of us.
Possible return to Calabar?
If the field in Aba is not ready, of course who says we won't come to Calabar? The team will want to return. The Calabar people have been very good to us, they made us feel at home, and it was as though we were in Aba. We could not have asked for anything better than that.
On keeping the faith
From the beginning of the season, I knew the worst result we were going to get was a continental ticket. Even when the team was 13th on the log, I did say Enyimba has unfinished business in the continent. I knew we had the materials to do it. At the beginning, you could see we started slowly. When the team peaked in the middle of the season, it started getting points home and away. So I think, like I said, the continental ticket is a [source of] pride for everybody.
Reinforcements for the CAF Confederation Cup?
The team is there, it's not going to be a (wholesale) thing, that's if I still remain in Enyimba. It's just going to be looking at the areas of need, and filling the gaps to create a team that can stand the test of time, and win laurels in the domestic scene and on the continent as well. You know Enyimba for being a team that always wants to win. So definitely the team needs to be beefed up, but it's not going to be a wholesale thing.
We had a lot of challenges [getting used to] the pitch. We were not able to train on the pitch as often as required, but we understand: there are as many as four or five teams making use of the field. If they had allowed us to train day and night there, it would not have been available for games even. So that was the major challenge.
Initially, we were training just one day, and if a team was coming to play here, they would also get one day of training on the pitch. So there was no advantage accruing to us as the home team. Be that as it may, by the time we got used to it, the management of the stadium was kind enough to increase it to two days, and were able to get used to the pitch. Once that happened, the team started playing well.
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