Monday, February 01, 2010

INTERVIEW: I Know My Mission At Sharks – Obuh

He passed his first return to the Premier League in flying colours after snatching a big result at Owerri against 2009 CAF Champions League finalist, Heartland Football Club, last Wednesday. New Sharks Football Club head coach, John Obuh, who led Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets to second place at the last edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, told why he took up the job at Sharks even when it was clear that the Port Harcourt side faces relegation. Here is the less than 30 minutes talk with the man at the helms of steering the Blue Angels out of relegation:

Congrats on your appointment as the head coach of Sharks Football Club, and you have started on a winning note against a difficult side.
Thank you. It’s important to start on that note after getting the job as head coach of this big club (Sharks FC). The club is in a precarious situation and I hope that by God’s grace that we will be able to climb out of this precarious situation. The win over Heartland is a starting point for us, and we want to consolidate in our subsequent matches.

Why did you take the job at Sharks when it was apparent that it is a side in a precarious situation?
I would not say because I love challenges like this but I would rather say that it is the only side that offered me a job with the right working atmosphere after my national duty with the Under-17 national team last year. However, the challenge of returning to the Nigerian league has been impossible to resist in the past two months after the Under-17 World Cup. However, I have worked in this capacity before now and I am ready to give my best in Sharks.

You spoke about Sharks providing you the right working atmosphere. What do you mean by this?
As a coach I have worked with a number of clubs as backup coach and head coach. I have also worked as a national team coach recently and I know what it means to work in a right atmosphere. I know what I meant by right atmosphere when I said so. Right atmosphere in this case has to do not just about the money alone involved but also the terms of contract, the target and free role to handle the team as I want it to be run. There are other aspects of it that would prefer to remain private since it has to remain so besides a right atmosphere will allow you as the coach to work without distractions and then you can achieve the target set before.

Do you have any target set before you since taking up the job last week?
Without being told anything, anyone can guess the target right. As a coach, who knows his onions I wouldn’t fool around now because I have a name to protect, and I know that even without a target I would have to steer Sharks away from the relegation zone, which is a Herculean task no doubt. But God will help us and we will work hard as a team to achieve that feat. Thank God we have started well from my first game in charge.

Before the game against Heartland last Wednesday, what did you actually tell the players to do that resulted in that big result in Owerri?
Actually, there is little you can tell players, who have been playing professional football for more than four or five seasons. The first thing I tried to instill in the side before that game in Owerri was first to have self-confidence before any match in spite of the poor string of results. I believe that the players before I came may have thought it was a difficult task having lost (three games) at home coupled with poor away form. Restoring confidence in the side is one thing, then using the right players in the tactics you choose for a particular game is another and so it is good that the players responded well in that game and I hope they will do same in subsequent matches.

As it is now, are you setting yourself any target for the season with Sharks?
The realistic target to set for now is to move away from the relegation zone. But I will not do so because it will amount to pressurizing myself and the team. We will want to take each game as they come but we are confident that we will not be relegated at the end of this season.

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