Chief Executive of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side Akwa United, Etubom Paul Bassey has closed the door on a possible hiring of national team coaches Imama Amapakabo or Paul Aigbogun, disclosing that his team will not “sign a coach that will leave us in January”.
Bassey was speaking in a phone interview on Friday’s Sports Splash on Lagos Television during which the veteran sports journalist emphatically stated that he will be looking to recruit a young coach who will not be distracted by national team activities because the upcoming season will be a short one.
The Promise Keepers are looking for a new head coach after their former handler Abdu Maikaba left the club at the expiration of his two-year contract and names of current Super Eagles chief coach Imama Amapakabo and Flying Eagles head coach Paul Aigbogun have been mentioned in recent times.
“We are not going to sign a coach that will leave us in January for one continental tournament,” began Bassey in apparent reference to the links between his team and Under-20 coach Aigbogun.
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“It is going to be an abridged league so I am going to sign a coach on a short term contract that will be with the team and a young coach that will do well with the team.
“We are looking for a coach that will be available to us throughout the season. We are looking for a young coach, something different. If I can’t get a Nigerian, I don’t mind going out,” added Bassey, who is also the Senior Special Assistant to Akwa Ibom State governor on Sports.
Akwa Unted have won Nigeria’s Cup competition two times out of the past three editions and the role of the team’s head coach has turned to a plum job which interests many coaches. Bassey stated that he has received many applications both from Nigeria and outside the country but reiterated what they are looking out for in Maikaba’s replacement.
“I have had so many calls that it is unbelievable.
“Coaches that have not even been entrusted with resources, they want to coach Akwa United. But I’m going to take my time because I want a young man who is ambitious; people like Maikaba who wants to come and try something and then we’ll go along with him,” said Bassey.
Other names linked to the Akwa United job include Nasarawa United’s immediate past head coach Kabiru Dogo and Rangers’ Gbenga Ogunbote but Bassey added that the picture of who takes the reins in Uyo will be clearer by next weekend after he might have concluded on the assignment.
The next football league season in Nigeria is expected to commence in November with the league taking an abridged shape of twelve teams in two groups. This should enable the league climax by May next year, in time to align with the new calendar by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).