Nigeria Professional Football League side, Wikki tourists will feature, for the first time, in the CAF Confederation Cup in 2007. In this interview with Complete Sports' radio show, Sports Planet's TUNDE KOIKI, chairman of the club, Isa Matori speaks about their desire to become the first Nigerian side to lift the title. Excerpts…
The 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League season was an absolute success for Wikki Tourists. Your team have been doing well for the past few seasons and you came third, picking a continental ticket for the first time. I'm sure you are particularly delighted with this feat?
Yes, I'm well pleased. If you remember, we narrowly missed out on winning the title, due to the two games we lost towards the end of the season.
It was a remarkable achievement for me as the chairman of the club and that made it possible for us to retain most of our players.
I'm happy with our achievement last season and I'm looking forward to the team doing better next season.
Talking about your key players, Godwin Obaje – the top scorer in the league last season, has just joined Tunisian side, Etoile du Sahel. Don't you think this is a big loss to your team?
I don't think so because we have strikers who are better than him. You know, normally when a player moves out, it gives opportunity to others to shine.
I'm sure that the strikers that we have now will do better than Obaje.
The normal saying in football is that you don't change a winning team, but the coach that was in charge of your team last season, Abdu Makaiba last left and you have a new man, Mohammed Babaganaru in charge. Don't you think that will affect the performance of your team?
Abdu Maikaba left for personal reasons. He was determined to leave the club and I didn't want to stop him. When he told us he was leaving, my prayer to God was to give us a better person and I believe that we have that in Mohammed Babaganaru.
For now, Babaganaru is doing okay with the team and I believe he will do greater things with us next season.
For Makaiba, I prayed for him when he was leaving. He is good person and a wonderful coach. He listens to advice and there will always be room for him to work here in case he decides to come back in future.
We worked together as a team when he was here, and he was an excellent person.
You are aware of the massive cash cruch that is facing everyone in the country. Wikki Tourists is funded by the Bauchi State Government, and will be campaigning in the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time, as well as the NPFL. That indicates that the government will be stretched in terms of funding. Are you looking at alternative way of making money?
The governor has done well for us. He is determined to renovate our stadium and put a new turf.
That shows he has passion for sports and interest in the club.
Funding will not be a problem for us. You know, managing resources well is very important in this situation. We may have little resources, but if we manage it well, we will excel.
So, we are managing our resources very well. The little we have, we are going to manage it well.
I know the people of Bauchi will be particularly delighted to see us playing in the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time next year.
How thrilled are you that Wikki Tourists will be playing continental football at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi next year?
I will not say anything for now but the future will tell. We are determined to make impact in the competition. We want to make the state proud, as well as Nigeria as a whole. I believe we will excel and do well in the competition.
Are you assuring Nigerians that your team will make it to the group stages of the Confederation Cup and possibly lift the trophy?
Yes, you don't go to a competition with the mindset of losing. If you are not optimistic and positive about it, you cannot go anywhere.
I'm very positive and optimistic about our chances. We have talented players and quality technical crew, good management and above all, the support of our governor.
Finally, Wikki Tourist played fantastic football last season. What words do you have for Wikki Tourist fans, both home and abroad ahead of the new season?
You see, we need two things, the support of the football fans in Bauchi and prayers. We know they have been praying for us and we will want them to continue doing that.
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