Coach Ali Zubair, an indigene of Ilorin is the newly appointed Technical Adviser, Wikki Tourist of Bauchi. The former Chief Coach of Kwara and Akwa United joined the Bauchi side from Akwa where he served as an assistant to Coach Abdul Makaiba after two seasons at the club. In this interview with HEAD SPORTS, NATIONAL PILOT, TOYIN SAHEED, the CAF C/CAF B licenced coach revealed that his new appointment in Bauchi is a new challenge in his career.
You have just been appointed as the head coach of Wikki Tourist, how did you see this appointment?
It’s a new opportunity that comes with a big challenge, even though it doesn’t come as a surprise because I have been waiting for this day at least I have been prepared for it to get the opportunity and the opportunity has come even though it is going to be a big challenge but I have prepared for it.
Last two season you were with Kwara United and this just concluded season you were with Akwa United how was the experience like?
Leaving Kwara United to Akwa United where I spent two seasons was a fruitful and encouraging because I left Kwara United, a place I served for almost nine years as an assistant coach for a new challenge, even though it was the same capacity as the assistant coach but considering the two, they are of two different environments and I think it broadens my experience and it gives me more opportunity to know how to relate with the players outside the state.
When you got to Akwa, the team really did well in the NPFL, how did you manage to do this?
I have said it all. Some people that know Akwa United very well confirmed to us that nine years back before we got there, they always fight relegation every year, especially when it remain one or two games to the end of the season, but when I and my Technical Adviser, Abdul Makaiba handled the same team, we worked on the philosophy of the team. When we started the building process, the result was not coming after two games, but immediately after the third games, the team started jelling, we started recording a lot of success and we took Akwa United from an unknown team to a known team and a household in Nigeria league. If you want to talk of Nigeria league today there is no how you wouldn’t talk about Akwa United.
You have served as an assistant under many experienced coaches like kadri Ikhana, Samson Unuanel, Abdul Makaiba, Tunde Sanni and others, how will you describe your working relationship with them?
Thank you, I think that is what is pushing me as a coach, the first person I worked with was Kadri Ikhana in Kwara United, after his exit, I worked with Coach Tunde Sanni, another experienced coach, I also work under samson Unuanel, I work under John Obuh before I left for Akwa United. All these coaches I have mentioned have antecedent and they are coaches with high pedigree so, serving under such coaches will help you a lot, except you are not a good assistant that goes in line with their working philosophies, but if you are such coaches, you will definitely gain a lot, there is no school of football you will go to that will give you such experiences, I really enjoyed working under them because it prepared me for future challenges.
Wikki Tourist have not been doing well in the league, how would you change the fortune of the club in the NPFL?
Fortunately, I was opportuned to be in the same group with Wikki Tourist in Aba during the Aiteo Cup, and I watched all their three matches, it is not as if the team is bad in terms of individual talent and ability of the players probably there are one or two things that they did not get right but I believe I will turn around the team to get them back to winning way just like the way Maikaba did that time, nobody gave Wikki any chance when he got there three years ago, the first year he finished fourth, second year, he finished third in the league. so, I will look at the lapses in the team and make sure we make some amendments and see how we can make progress in future.
Were you given any target by the management of the club?
Not really. Their target is that the team should finish in the first five but as a coach that is aspiring to achieve something in the league, my own personal target is to finish first two because the league is an abridged league of twelve teams so, to finish second at least is my own personal target and nothing can stop me from contesting for the league.
Are you in support of the abridged league and how can you describe Nigeria league in the just concluded season?
Its unfortunate that the league ended in abrupt, though it was not anybody’s making, the League Management Company (LMC) never planed for the abridged but because of the crisis they went through then, it resulted into it and they don’t have any options than to do that, I believe we should all welcome it since it is going to be for one season they, said by next season they would go back to there normal statistics. I believe the abridged league style will give good opportunity to other teams that may not even ordinary have chance to play at the league division but now as it is, it’s a welcome development.
What will you say are your great challenges since your coaching career?
I think as a coach that started from the grassroots coming to the premiership, what I see as a challenge in Nigeria contest is sometimes interference in the management. Some management even though they have good intention not knowing that by so doing they are making destruction to the team because if you don’t allow the coach to take a decision on the team who does the problem goes to? certainly the management will not say they are responsible for the team’s misfortune due to their interference and they will all blames the coach. Giving a team to a coach is based on the trust you have in him so recruitment and selection for matches should be left alone for the coach to do except he’s going astray. Of course is acceptable for you to call his attention to something if necessary. There is nothing wrong in asking questions about the coach’s selection but if he is able to convince you and he believe in his work just support him and if it doesn’t work then he’s on his own but in a situation where interference becomes too much, I don’t think it’s good for the game that is why I keep talking about Paul Bassey. I have worked with a lot of football administration but he’s different I don’t know maybe because he has worked with CAF but all my two years stay in Akwa United, he has never for one day enforce any player either for recruitment or even selection, it not as if he did not have his own opinion but he just throw it at you jokingly but I am looking at it from this angle if you go in line with his opinion so it’s good for him but if you don’t, he doesn’t take offense on it and I think that is what is pushing the team forward.
Can you reveal your contract agreement with Wikki?
I think for now that it is secret and confidential between me and my lawyer and I have hand it over to him even though I have studied it before I sign. But for now I think the contract is okay I agreed with the contract and my lawyer is aware of what is in the content of the contract in case if there is anything but it is not yet time for me to disclose the contract.
How many year did you sign?
I sign just one year contract with Wikki tourist.
Kwara State now produces three indigenous coaches in the NPFL, how will you describe the challenges?
I think it shows that Kwara is better in terms of coaching because considering the circumstances at the same time I don’t think there is any state that have three coaches in the League. All the three coaches we mentioned are from Ilorin, it is saying something good about coaches of Ilorin and it is not only the three of us, there are many more like I mention Tunde Sani, he is a very good coach, he is even our senior and may be people have not discovered him but we that we have work under him know his worth and apart from him there are others so, it show Ilorin coaches, Kwara coaches, Nigeria Coach Association are exceptional in terms of duties so that is the only thing I will say about that.