Owosports Yemi Sodeeq caught up with Coach Maajin Muhammed of Niger Tornadoes Feeders in this interview,The Niger State born gaffer bears his mind on several issues from his development as a player and coach while also delving into the state of football in the country. The former Chief Coach of Kwara United highlights the effects of Administrators and Management on the round leather game.
He later gave his reactions to the acquisition of Delta force FC by Kwara United.
Below is the excerpt of the interview.
Owosports: who are we talking to ?
My name is Maajin Muhammad . I started my football career at Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger and played for Mokwa United , NEPA FC Jebba .I was picked from the State Governor’s Cup to represent Niger State at the National Sports Festival tagged Rivers ’88 and won bronze medal for the State football team.
I joined Niger Tornadoes when Coach Emmanuel Tete picked me as one of his favourite young players far back as 1988. I left for BCC Lions Of Gboko before I later came back to Tornadoes.
How did you fare then as a player .Did you have any major honours and with which team?
As a younger player then I was very happy playing for Tornadoes and later went to BCC Lions of Gboko. One of the honour as a player then was wining Challenge Cup now Aiteo Cup with BCC Lions of Gboko as far back as 1997 and then when I came back to Tornadoes I won the same cup again in the year 2000; that was the Millennium year. I was very happy to win the trophies.
Going into coaching as a career was definitely a huge decision to take, how did you come a out the dug out standing ?
Yeah! It was a huge decision to take. I was also the Captain of the Tornadoes during my days, because of that leadership qualities during the course of the game they looked at me that I must be very intelligent so if given the opportunity I can be a very good coach and in 2004 when the career was almost going to an end I was made the trainer of the team so I was performing a dual role of Captain and Trainer.
However, in 2005, I was sent to National Institute for Sports (NIS) for coaching course where I earned ‘Advance Coaching in Football’. I was made the Assistant Coach of the State team when I came back and that is how I started my coaching career.
I have been able to work with many coaches like Coach Bernard Ogbe, Zakari Baraje, and John Obuh who is currently with Akwa united .
How has the coaching career been?
My Coaching career has been very impressive. Part of my achievement was when I was asked to go and stand in for Coach Obuh at the National team Under 20 team when he was preparing for the World Cup. I was also with the National U-20 as a coach when Coach Obuh went for course in Germany almost one month but I didn’t make the team to the World Cup although. I came back to Tornadoes again when they got promotion to the Premier League, it was then that the NFF said every NPFL team must have a feeders team and I was given the task again raised a formidable feeder team.
I have led the feeders to win State Challenge Cup and guided them to the quarter final of the Aiteo Cup beating the likes of Wikki tourist, Dolphins now Rivers United and losing to Akwa United via penalties in 2014/2015 .
I was later appointed as the Chief coach of Kwara United and was part of the Technical crew that took Kwara United to NPFL before I later came back to Tornadoes feeders when my contract expired with Kwara United.
How would you describe the coaches and management relationship and dealings giving your experience in the system?
Coaches management relationship supposed to be a cordial one
knowing well that you are both working to achieve the same goal but you know to whom much is given much is expected.
Here reverse is the case, you are not giving much and they are still expecting much result from you.
In football whatever happens especially if the result is not forthcoming, it is always the coaches that are always at the receiving end .
Most times the management don’t use to respect the contractual agreement by not fulfilling it and when you ask for what you bargained for they tagged you a stubborn coach.
It takes two to tango they can’t operate without us and and we can’t be without them so we must put our heads together to get the same result, that is one of the difference between here and what is happening in Europe where they give you what you require to get a result and even if they are terminating your contract they make sure if the contract is not yet expired they pay you.
You are currently holding the maze at the Niger Tornadoes Feeders. How has been your journey with the team and what have you been able to achieve with them ?
I am enjoying the job. The boys are cooperating. There is no pressure to deliver because what I am trying to do is to see how I can raise a very young talented players not only for Tornadoes but for other teams who may deem it fit to work with them.
I nurture a lot of them going into the main team and some of them go out to other clubs like of Baba Owo who plays for Plateau united and Gabriel Wasa who was with Akwa United and now with Plateau united
I have been able to win so many times even the State Challenge Cup with Tornadoes Feeders and I can tell you it is also with the Feeders team that we scored the highest number of goals in National Challenge Cup (Aiteo) by beating a team in Kano 7 goals to nothing.
As a coach, you would like to lay your hands on a big job in the country, which team would you like to guide sir?
Yeah! Naturally in life whatever one is doing you are always aspiring to go far. I am praying to God to give me opportunity to get a club where I can showcase my coaching talent. I am not specific on a particular club but would really love a club that have ambition that will give me support and good atmosphere without undue and unnecessary pressure. I am just waiting by the corner for an opportunity.
Now talking about the State of football in the country and giving your experience as a technical crew of one of the age grade National team in the past, how would you describe the recent performance of the country U-17, U-20 at the World Cup and the home based Eagles in all their outing?
The problem is that we are only interested in promoting the game of football not developing it.
That is why anytime you see whether U17 or U20 preparing for any tournament the emphasis is always to go and win the competition which is why we are always getting it wrong .
we should rather focus on development by fishing out the young talented players that are going to be useful in future not necessarily we win that competition.
You will discover that whenever you are preparing for competition you are already on pressure either from the people that give you the job or the journalist .
Coaches should be given time to develop the team. You can go for competition and win or lose but when you succeed there is a failure and when you fail there is also an area of success. We should be allowed to correct failures or build on whatever success we have already achieved.
Another problem are the Agents who lobby with coaches to go with their players so that clubs in Europe might see the players and sign them.
The CHAN Eagles and U-23 don’t have coaches, we are suppose to have a substantial coach for all these grade team so that every time he is always with the players to train them and understand each other.
We must also look inward by fixing up the local players and not rely on foreign based alone in order to build a vibrant team by defeating the aim of if you don’t travel you can’t make the National team.
Before I round up my questions, your former team Kwara United just acquired Delta Force FC of Asaba to come back to the NPFL, how would you react to this sir?
I don’t know why Kwara Uited are in hurry, I believe that you can’t buy success, you have to work for it .
Kwara United doesn’t really know what they want .They have gone to NPFL and come back so many times. All the stakeholders need to check their selves and promote love among everyone .
They are owing so many people who have worked with the team to gain success in the past .
So if they can really pay up that huge amount of money for the slot they should be able to settle the backlog of the arrears so that those people can pray for them.
They really need to check the foundation of the team as you can’t build a house on a not well laid structure. I would say they shouldn’t have gone for the slot but rather develop the team and gain back the promotion because it might still be a show of excuses at the end of the day if they fail to promote.