29th July, 2011
Â Tajudeen Olasukanmi is the team manager of Handsworth Football Club of Sango-Otta. His team defeated Lobi Stars in the second round of Federation Cup, but lost to Dekina Dragon in the Round of 32. Olasukanmi spoke about the Federation Cup with SUNDAY AKINTOYE
Most people were surprised that Handsworth Football Club of Sango Otta could reach the Round of 32 of the Federation Cup, what was the secret?
Actually, before the Federation Cup (formerly called National Challenge Cup) started nobody gave us a chance, but thank God, we reached the Round of 32. The secret is simple. All my players are disciplined and committed to the club. They are hungry for success and ready to sell themselves in the Federation Cup, unfortunately,we did not reach the group stage. It was so sad that we lost to Dekina Dragon of Kogi State 4-5 on penalty shootout. We were not happy about the result because we had a clear chance of winning the match in the regulation time, but luck was against my team.
What other factors contributed to your teamâ€™s defeat against Dekina Dragon FC?
A lot of factors contributed to our defeat. Firstly, the Ogun State Football Association did not gave us necessary support to excel in the tourney. We played three matches before we were out of the competition, but none of the Ogun FA officials accompanied us to the match venues. I think they were unfair to us from the beginning to the end. We expected them to assist us financially and morally, but they were not forthcoming. Lobi Stars also contributed to our defeat, following their protest against us.
Actually, we defeated Lobi Stars 1-0 in the second round in Kogi State, their chairman, Dominic Iorfa, protested against our victory to the Nigeria Football Federation NFF, but we did not know on time. When we got to Ilorin to play Dekina Dragon FC of Kogi, the Match Commissioner told us that the NFF had directed him to stop the match. We felt bad and by the time the NFF cleared us and fixed a new date for the match in Abuja, my players were down and couldn’t meet up.
It appeared that fatigue also affected your teamâ€™s performance in the match?
You are right, we travelled from Lagos to Abuja, a day before the match and we got to Abuja later in the evening.
The players were weak and managed to play the match at 2 p.m. the following day. There was no time to rest.
We also spent more than N2m for the three matches we played in the Federation Cup. The most painful aspect of our woes in the tourney was that after spending so much to get to Ilorin, our match against Dekina Dragon was did not see the light of the day.
It was expected that Lobi Stars would refund the money for your trip to Ilorin, didn’t they?
We made an attempt to get our money back from Lobi Stars but the NFF said we should forgive them. By the time we played our last match against Dekina Dragon FC, we had ran out of cash.
You complained of lack of support from the Ogun FA, how did you get sponsor for the competition?
After I spent the money I had, I had to borrow money to prepare for our remaining matches. Like I said earlier, the Ogun FA abandoned us when we needed them most and I am disappointed.
Did you really approach them for assistance?
Yes,we did. They said a new government just came on board and we should be patient. We waited for the FA to do something, but nothing came from the association.
With what the Ogun FA did to you in the Federation Cup, do you still plan to participate in the state’s Challenge Cup next year?
We are going to participate in the competition next year. I am happy that none of the clubs in Ogun State, including Gateway Club, reached the Round of 32 in the Federation Cup. We are happy about that. Donâ€™t forget that we won the last Ogun FA Cup and we hope to retain the title next year.
What was your toughest match in the Federation Cup?
The match we played against Lobi Stars in the second round. After we scored our winning goal in the early minutes of the second half, Lobi Stars put pressure on us. At a point, they dominated the game. I stood up throughout the match. I was tensed because Lobi Stars came out with their best. But at the end of the day, we came out victorious.