Plateau United cannot win the Nigeria Professional Football League title but can end their season on a high starting with victory at Rivers United today, boss Abdu Maikaba says.
Maikaba’s 2017 champions travel to Port Harcourt for a matchday 30 encounter with the Pride of Rivers and the former Akwa United gaffer believes his side has what it takes to leave with all three points.
Signed to huge expectations, Maikaba’s two and half year spell in charge of the Jos side has produced mixed results and no trophies.
His first season ended in great disappointment as they escaped relegation by whiskers despite a massive splash in the transfer market.
Plateau United, however, underwent a complete transformation last season, as Maikaba had them playing swashbuckling football and top of the NPFL, four points from their nearest challengers after 25 games before the campaign was first suspended and then truncated following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Plateau United led the league for most wins (14), fewest losses (4), most goals scored (36) and least goals conceded (15 – level with Rivers United) before the league was curtailed.
He’d declared at the start of this season that Plateau United’s goal was to complete their “unfinished business” from the last campaign.
However, a mixed start that saw them lose five and draw eight of their opening 10 games has left them playing catch up and in danger of missing continental football.
Plateau United are currently in 8th place on 43 points, five behind Wednesday’s opponents Rivers United and ten from leaders Akwa United with nine games left to play.
Maikaba acknowledges that a title shot is a pipe dream at this time but insists his team can show intent and reiterate their quality with a win against Stanley Eguma’s side.
“The truth is it’s difficult for us to fight for the title at the present but our image is at stake,” he said ahead of their trip to Port Harcourt. “Going there to win shows clearly that maybe we woke up late that is why we cannot win the title but we have that ability and we can beat Rivers United I think that is what we are telling the world.”
Plateau United played out a goalless stalemate with Enyimba in Jos last time out, the fourth time they have failed to score in seven games.
Maikaba believes the reason behind their reticence in front of goal is more psychological than evidence of poor form and is optimistic the goals will come as long as they continue playing as they have been recently.
“We have to add something to our game, more especially something that is missing which is finishing at the point of goal,” he said.
“I believe the reason is psychological, they’re always anxious if it took them time to score a goal they become anxious and if anxiety sets in, they find it very difficult to have that calmness to finish attacks.
“But we hope we can be able to calm down and convert our chances because as far as we are playing well we’ll create the chances.”