Rangers Coach Imama raises hopes of grassroots players, as praises and knocks trail Frank Peters Cup

By Daily Sports on November 17, 2016

Views: 1,580

Nigeria's premier league winning coach Imama Amakapabo has asked grassroots footballers to believe they can make a direct leap to the Nigerian Premier League from their clubs.

Imama who is overseeing Enugu Rangers’ preseason exercise at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City said in a chat after his club’s evening session on Monday that he has no qualms picking young and talented players from grassroots sides and promoting them straight into his premier league club.

There has been a persistent belief amongst many a youngster in amateur outfits that big premier league sides like Rangers International of Enugu, Enyimba of Aba and Kano Pillars of Jos prioritise the signing of players who have premier league experience over rookies from the amateur ranks. But for coach Imama, it’s not necessarily the case.

“It depends on the philosophy of the coach. I have three or four players here who I picked from the grassroots. Godwin Aguda signed from Christ Ambassadors FC of Surulere, Lagos is one. I heard about him after his exploits in the Lagos FA cup which his team won. He came in to Rangers on a Tuesday, we registered him on a Thursday and he made his debut for us the following Saturday,” Imama said.

The caveat remains strong though. A player in the grassroots ranks must be very good, with some worthy achievements at the local level and must come with some good recommendation.

“It all depends on the quality of the player. I like to give young players the opportunity to play, but then somebody must scout you and make positive recommendations to me. I don’t go around grassroots clubs looking for young players,” Imama added.

Meanwhile, the Rangers gaffer is deep into preseason with his club and next week, they will move into tactical work and would test their level of preparations starting with friendly against teams that are in the grassroots level – what Imama calls grade C matches.

To this end, Rangers are considering playing a friendly next week against Edo State League side, Benin Warriors who are the champions of the state league.

The game would afford the young grassroots players of the team to strut their stuff and make an impression against one of Nigeria’s most illustrious clubs.

For young players at the grassroots, Imama’s comments should come as a reassurance, as it means that there's a road to the top with hard work and skills as the passport.

Frank Peters Cup: Tournament hots up amidst complaints

Frank Peters Trophies

The maiden edition of the Frank Peters Cup taking place in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State (a competition for grassroots sides from all over the country) has reached its knockout stages. Fans are turning out to watch some good team and individual displays as tournament organisers have been on Ogun TV to speak about their satisfaction with the way things are going.

Warri Wolves feeder team, Dominion Pacers of Ijebu, and Lagos Islanders have been particularly impressive and are poised to play in the quarter finals stage. And there's Ijebu United who are being tipped by many to win the competition.

However, there have been complaints by some ousted teams about the standard of organisation of the tournament.

The major areas of discord have been on the officiating and the total ignorance of rules regarding players ages, which was supposed to be an under 19 developmental competition, turning into a ‘free-age’ tournament.

Players, some old enough to be considered too old for the Super Eagles can be seen featuring in the tournament. For some few teams who stuck to the pre-tournament rules of bringing young under-19 boys, there’s a feeling of betrayal. They told me “it was an under 19 tournament. But because of desperation for the N1.5 million prize money lots of teams brought old men and the organisers have looked the other way. I have older players I could have brought and I'm sure we could have still been in the tournament.”

The biggest grouse from some teams as the tournament moves into the advanced stage is the level of officiating. There’s suspicion that the referees are being bias in favor of Ijebu United who are the home side based in the city of Ijebu Ode.

The organisation itself has fuelled that speculation. Club officials of Ijebu United are doubling as members of the tournament organisation and that has not gone down well with other teams.

All the referees officiating the matches are from Ogun State, “I understand that some powerful forces within the organising committee have insisted that only Ogun State refs should officiate the tournament, simply because its taking place in the state. Despite the protestation of a few rational heads in the committee to have refs from other states involved, this powerful clique has had its way.

“The result is the ethical and moral issues that have crept up. This is a national competition. Teams from all over the country are participating. The fact that it's hosted by Ogun does not mean that only Ogun refs can take charge. When an Ogun State ref handles a match involving an Ogun team that has its coaches as members of the LOC, what do you expect?” one coach, whose team was eliminated said, adding that “the organisers have failed Mr. Frank Peters. I know Mr. Frank stands for fairness, but unfortunately his organisers have not lived up to expectations.”

Source Daily Sports

Posted November 17, 2016

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