Abia Warriors coach Imama Amapakabo says his side are ready for the 2021-22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season ahead of their opening encounter against sister-club Enyimba in Aba on Sunday.
In a repeat of last season’s opener, Abia Warriors confront Enyimba in a potentially-explosive Abia Derby – a match which will see the People’s Elephant coach Finidi George make his NPFL bow.
After over four months break in the league, Amapakabo, who guided Rangers to a 7th NPFL title in 2016, says he is happy the new season is finally underway.
“You can’t say you are not ready (for the NPFL) after about four months of our last league [season],” said, the former Super Eagles assistant coach.
“It’s a thing of joy that, at last, we get to start the league. And most importantly, we have worked to a certain extent. At a point, (we) sagged form and surged, but then, we are thankful that ….
“So, it is not until we start playing competitively that you’ll get to appreciate if you are ready or not. But I think in terms of preparedness, every other team, not just my team should be ready for the league as at this time.”
Amapakabo will have to take on the new season without four players, who made Abia Wariors tick last term. Goalkeeper Ojo Olorunleke, defender Adekunle Adeleke, midfielder Fatai Abdullahi and forward Emeka Obioma all crossed the divide from Umuahia to Aba to join Enyimba.
However, the former El Kanemi Warriors handler says he is hopeful of filling the void left by the quartet.
“Football is a progressive thing, and it is a thing of joy that my team is one that our next door neighbours were able to come take players,” the 52-year-old tactician said.
“And it is a thing of joy that all these players you mentioned have been featuring prominently in their campaign in the continent. And we are always prepared for players to fill in those places.
“We believe that when the league starts, we will be able to introduce some other players that would be able to excel in the league also.”