|Coach Bala of Niger Tornadoes|
Abubakar Bala, Technical Adviser of Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL side, Niger Tornadoes has disclosed that ongoing Gold Cup Preseason Tournament has helped his side to prepare well for the new season.
In an exclusive interview with Gold Cup Media Channel, the young tactician noted that his side are better ready than last season despite mass exodus of players from the Minna based side just as he called on LMC to raise the standard of the league in the new season.
You started the Gold Cup Tournament on a disappointing note, how do you see your chances of winning it?
We stand a good chance of winning it because we have seen all the teams in our group played, we have seen their strength though we have a bad start but looking at what we've seen in the other team, we have 70 per cent chance of qualifying.
How will you rate your team's readiness for the new season looking at their performance in training especially in this competition?
Well if you look at Niger Tornadoes you will see that it's almost new team entirely, we have about 85 per cent of new players, only 15 percent are old ones, and since we resume on 20th of October due to what we are going to face, we know that it's going to be a new team, and there's need to regrouped earlier and so far so good, just like I said last season that it will be different ball game, we want to change the character of the team for better, we want to instill more discipline and make the players get the zeal and motivation to do well.
We've played four games and I think it's look good with what the players have been doing in training matches and I hope by the time we finish this Gold Cup, we will be able to get our team completely ready for the league.
You may not be completely rated with your past season's performance as you came midway, but what are your expectations as you get set for your acid test in the NPFL?
Last season in the league, our target was to stabilize the team and make sure we remain in the league, this season we want to see a better performance than that of last season and that's why we quickly identified our mistakes which was from recruitment and we are working on that, we've gotten better players that will help the team and by the grace of God this season we will be much better.
The fixtures for the new NPFL season will be out by December 10, what are your expectations and how do you want your games to look like?
We are prepared for any team, looking at what we've done so far at this stage, I think we are better ready than last season, we are 90 percent ready for the league, this Gold Cup has helped to see some of the clubs we are to face in the league, we've seen Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Sunshine Stars, MFM FC and Remo Stars and others and we are hoping to end the new season better than last season.
Tornadoes look like a new team, don't you think mass exodus of players will affect your ambition going into the new season?
Definitely it will, and that's why we resumed earlier and we've been able to get better players to replace those that have gone, most of the players that are no longer with us were dropped due to bad performance and lack of discipline, just few players like Gabriel Wassa and Lukman Mohammed left on mutual agreement and again we've improved the character of the team better than last season and we believe everything will be fine for us this time around.
Are you more challenged now to make a big impact with Tornadoes now that major responsibility rest on your shoulder?
I have to admit that the challenges are more now, as you know that I was with the team last season and much is expected, like then I can have excuses that I'm not the one that started with the team but now that I'm in charge of all preparation and most especially I'm an indigenous coach from Niger State, the pressure have been very enormous but by the grace of God we can withstand the pressure and everything will go as planned for Tornadoes.
With the level of confidence you have in your team, can you bold enough to say Tornadoes will win the league this season?
I cannot categorically state that we can, but we will make a very good impact this new season, our target last season after gaining promotion was to remain, now we will want to go a step further in that, I think a top with good performance and result will make good season for us but if we see chances to win the league we will utilize it.
What are you telling the League Management Company, LMC to do now to better the NPFL than last season?
Like I always say, the two important areas for them to further work on are the officiating and Sponsorship. If those aspects are improved upon, we will have a better and interesting season than the previous ones.
What is your message to numerous Niger Tornadoes' fans and supporters?
They should be patient with us, they should continue to rally behind us and pray for our success and we promise them we will have a better season than that of last season.