Head coach of MFM FC Fidelis Ilechukwu has praised the impact of his substitutes in their 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Match Day 6 victory at home to Wikki Tourist.
Following a largely error-strewn and uninspiring first half, Ilechukwu effected a double change early in the second half introducing Chijioke Akuneto and Said Mubarak for Elijah Akanni and Alade Balogun in the 47th minute and those changes proved the difference as Mubarak set up Akuneto to score the winning goal in the 69th minute.
Ilechukwu is fast making a name for himself as an astute game reader with a propensity to change games from the bench as shown in MFM’s first home match of the season against Kwara United when he brought on debutant Adeniji Kabir who scored three minutes after coming on to make the game safe for the Olukoya Boys.
In Sunday’s encounter versus Wikki, Ilechukwu said he sought to exploit the lack of pace in Wikki’s backline and turned to Mubarak “to break in”, although it could all have turned out very differently if Mubarak had started the match as Ilechukwu originally intended but the coach said a “spiritual” intuition caused him to change his mind.
“He’s [Mubarak] a fantastic player. I told him that ‘you are going to start’ [but] suddenly [on Saturday] I said ‘son I think you can’t start, bringing you in will solve our problems’ and after the game, he said ‘coach you said it and I’ve done it’. It’s fantastic, it’s sometimes spiritual,” Ilechukwu said.
Sunday’s victory took MFM top of Group A and even though they have now won all three home games this season, their displays have been mostly unimpressive but Ilechukwu pointed out that the nature of the abridged league meant teams were bound to struggle and urged fans of the club to maintain their support for the team at all times.
“It’s very important that [they continue to support us because] we need them more than they need us because without them and their motivation we might not be here,” Ilechukwu said.
“I want to tell them to just calm down and be patient with us because some teams are struggling at home as well. The abridged league is tough but today we thank God that with them we won today.”