Sunshine Stars coach Duke Udi has been reflecting on the performance of his team in the just-concluded Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, after guiding the ‘Owena Waves’ to safety.
The Akure-based side finished the campaign on 10th spot on the final NPFL standings despite battling relegation (on 17th position) when the ex-international took over the reins. Under his tutelage, Sunshine also recorded three away wins in the season, the most by any team in the league.
In an exclusive chat with www.busybuddiesng.com , the former Enyimba, Shooting Stars and Grasshoppers of Switzerland midfielder, attributed his team’s relative success to a collective effort.
“First and foremost, I give God the glory because it is all about God and none of us. He did the magic; we are just agents. Thank God he used us,” said the 41-year old.
“It is not a good thing for you to battle relegation. When I took up the job, people called me and asked ‘why did you take this kind of job?’ But for me, if there is no challenge, there is no reward. And I believe challenges make a man to be tough.
“I took the job because I believe we (with his assistants) are able of pulling them out (of relegation) and by the special grace of God, like I said, He did it.
The former Osun United handler was equally appreciative of the efforts of his players, management and owners of the team in ensuring that they escaped the dreaded drop to the lower division.
“I have to give kudos to my players because they doubled their efforts and the management increased the motivation and the (Ondo) State Government came in.
“Our new State Governor (Rotimi) Akeredolu is a lover of football. He came to cheer the boys (players) up and, he also started paying the salaries and match bonuses owed the team. So that was the tonic we needed.
“The Supporters were there for us and everybody believed and we worked together as a team. It was a team work that brought us out of relegation,” he concluded.
After taking over at the club from ex-Super Eagles coach Austin Eguavoen, Udi guided the former CAF Champions League semi-finalists to 8 wins and 5 loses in 13 NPFL matches last season.
Sunshine Stars might eventually cap their season with silverware as they are still in contention for the Aiteo Cup, where they host Udi’s former side, Osun United in the second leg of the quarter final fixture on Saturday.