With the new Nigeria Professional Football League season now officially underway, the participating clubs are all hoping for a bright outing.
One of the optimists is Sunshine Stars coach Ayodeji Aiyeni who masterminded the club’s escape from relegation last season.
While the Akure Gunners finished just above the drop zone with 45 points from 38 games last season, they are hoping for a top-four finish this season.
Coach Aiyeni speaks with PREMIUM TIMES on his team’s aspiration for the new season even though they are largely seen as underdogs by analysts.
PT: What are your expectations as the new league season gets underway
Coach Aiyeni: By the grace of God, we are looking ahead for a good season; we are looking at it for a promising season and we are looking ahead for a success-packed season for which I know that Sunshine Stars will be among the successful teams by the grace of God.
PT: Sunshine Stars are largely seen as underdogs but you showed a glimpse of promise by beating the defending champions Akwa United in your last pre-season tournament, what should be expected from your team this season?
Coach Aiyeni: Actually, you are right. We went to Abuja as underdogs and I even like the tag, let’s remain as underdogs because we are humble children and very hardworking children.
We believe in hard work, unity and understanding of the team, and that will help us in the new season and my expectation for the team is to surpass the record we had last year.
I’m looking forward to us being among the top four. There is nothing impossible in football, it is just a matter of desire, follow your desires and actualise your dream. It is our dream that we have a better season by the grace of God.
PT: You mean Sunshine Stars have the ambition of representing Nigeria on the continent again; a feat you achieved about five seasons ago?
Coach Aiyeni: Yes of course… As a human being, you must have a target and the target is not far-fetched from us getting it. If other teams can get it, we too can make it and don’t let us be deceived by the euphoria of successes of many teams; every other team is trying to get the right channel for them to exhibit what they know how to do best and actualise their dream by achieving success in the new season and of which Sunshine Stars is not exempted from achieving the goal.
PT: What changes are you hoping to see this new season in League especially from the organisers?
Coach Aiyeni: My first candid advice to the league body is that the league should be sponsored by viable multinational companies.
They should be TV-friendly, they should have a TV right where the league can be watched all over the world, and with this, it will help the standard of the league and it will help the league itself for us to know the real winner or the real champions of the league and it will give market drive for the league and the players in the league to be sellable all over the world which will also help the development of the league again in Nigeria, Africa and all over the world.
So, I will advise that the league body should try to make sure that we have a very good season.
PT: Are there new players in your team to prosecute the 2021/22 season and do you think you are well-prepared enough?
Coach Aiyeni: I believe in working quietly and letting the work speak for us because we have some new players injected into the team and we only rely on young players so that we will have a very good youthful side that will contest with the bigger boys in the league.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...