Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Amidst pressure from some national and international club owners seeking the services Head Coach of Rangers International Football Club, Imama Amapakabo, Enugu State Government yesterday declared its intention to retain the gaffer who led the Flying Antelopes to end 32-year wait for a major title.
Rangers won the 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title in grand style last Sunday after mauling hard-fighting El Kanemi Warriors Football Club of Maiduguri 4-0.
Enugu State Commissioner for Sports, Charles Ndukwe, told newsmen that the victorious coach was not available despite the fact that his previous contract ended with the season. He told clubs seeking his signature to look elsewhere.
He said the coach would lead Rangers Club to victory in the CAF Champions League.
Ndukwe said the state government was not ready to let him go, stressing that it has so much confidence in his abilities to lead the club to victory in the continental championship next season.
The commissioner said the state would do all in its power to retain the coach as well as players for the 2016/2017 professional league and other engagements.
“Imama (Amapakabo) came as coach in the mid season. He was interviewed as well as other coaches. He signed a one year contract with Rangers. Unless on his own volition makes up his mind that he is no longer with Rangers, all those looking for him are wasting their time.
Imama on his own is making arrangements of settling his family here.
“Nobody holds the ace alone and there is no success that can come to anybody alone. Imama is a wonderful coach, he is a good guy and I love his stubbornness, he is not somebody you can push around, he does whatever he wants to do. We value him but I don’t know why the media is making it to look as if Imama is indispensable. As you are saying all these, you are making Imama look like someone who does not value what Enugu State Government has done for him.
“We appreciate him so much and we want to assure all that he is not going anywhere. We have a player in the hospital and he has been calling to know how the young man is doing. We are aware that it was the national team that took him to Abuja, so when the media is saying
he has gone to South Africa; he has gone to everywhere, that is not true. Those saying he is former coach of Rangers are doing so to encourage those looking to sign him.
“This trophy has eluded us for 32 years. It does not mean that those people who were there did not do their best, only God knows why it has to come now. I am very sure that Imama seeing this trophy here and the team going on continental want to be part of that team that he loves so much. All I want to say is that those looking for Imama should keep their money. Imama is not for sale. He is not available,” stressed Ndukwe.
He stated that Rangers remained one of the best motivated club sides in the country, adding that no member of the team was on loan presently.
The commissioner said that the desire of the state government was to ensure that the club sustained its winning streak, stressing that the continental championship would push the club to her desired level in football.
Meanwhile as part of efforts to harness and groom talents for future sporting events, the state government will on Monday kick start its annual sports festival, tagged “042 Sports Festival” in the three senatorial zones of the state.
The festival, being put together in partnership with the Ammjessy Events Nigeria, according to Ndukwe, would see youths competing in twelve games including high and long jump, Golf, Taekwando, Springs, Football for men and woman, Tennis, Traditional Wrestling, Handball, Basketball, Judo among others was a way of harnessing sporting potentials in the grassroots to be retrained for national and international competitions.
Ndukwe said the competition, which would hold at the headquarters of the three senatorial zones of the state was the outcome of the sports
summit recently organized in the state, stressing that government was desirous to create employment for her people.