Why I Want To Coach U-18 Team —Ayinla


Ayinla Johnson is a former Captain of the senior national team, D’Tigers, and Head Coach of Union Bank Basketball Club of Lagos. He spoke to our reporter on Union Bank’s campaign in the Premier League this season, their target for this season after their team finished as first-runners up last time. He also reacted on his appointment as Head Coach of the national U-18 men’s team

How would you describe Union Bank’s performance this season?

Well, it has been a tough season for us in the Premier League. As head coach of the team, I am not surprised with the challenges we’ve faced so far this season. This is due to the fact that we just assembled a whole set of new players at the beginning of the season after we lost some of the players who played for us last year.And, the fact that we are still in contention for the Super 8, I will give my players pass mark for their performance so far.

What do you hope to achieve with this newly assembled set of players?

Right from the begiining of the season, our target has been the league title and equally to secure a continental ticket. The fact that I am working with a young team for the first year would not limit our aspiration for this season. Don’t forget that we finished second on the log last season and for that, we cannot but eye the top position this year, that is our target.

Do you think your title aspiration is still achievable considering your team are currently out of the top four on he log?

Absolutely! We still have four matches to play and our goal now is to ensure we make it to the Super 8 and we’ll take it up from there.

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You were appointed as the new head coach of Nigeria’s U-18 men’s team?

I think it is an honour to be called to serve ones father’s land and for me to be chosen by the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, I feel really blessed.

Why do you prefer to coach the junior team, having been chosen by the NBBF to assist coach Ayo Bakare to handle the local D’Tigers?

I accepted the appointment to coach the junior team because I wanted to be part of the NBBF current initiative to relaunch the development of our young talents in the grassroots.

How soon are you starting the job?

We’ve started already. I just instructed my assistant, coach Sani Turi of Kada Stars to go to Minna to scout for players at an academy tourney currently going on there. And, very soon we will open the camp in Zaria, and Kaduna. Our target is to assemble a formidable team that will dethrone the current Africa junior champions, Egypt.

—Bamidele Olowosagba

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