Bendel Insurance Football Club are using the ongoing Aiteo Federation Cup competition as a preparatory ground ahead of life in the 2022/2023 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), an official says.
Monday Odigie, the club’s Head Coach, told newsmen on Saturday in Abuja that the Cup competition would help them to correct lapses noted in the just-ended Nigeria National League (NNL).
He spoke after his team’s Round of 64 match against Nationwide League One (NLO) side Junior Katsina United, a game he said was very tough.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bendel Insurance defeated the Katsina United feeder team 2-0 in the match played at the FIFA Goal Project pitch.
Goals by Imade Oserenkhoe and Deputy Echeta in both halfs of the game ensured that the Benin-based clubside secured passage into the Round of 32.
Oserenkhoe opened scoring in the 36th minute with a powerful header which met Echeta’s well-timed cross into the penalty area.
Echeta added the second goal in the 55th minute after he calmly utilised Zaidu Ayuba’s pin-point cross into the penalty area.
Odigie, though, noted that the standard of the game was very high and a good test for his side ahead of their campaign in the 2022/2023 NPFL season.
“The game was fair enough for this competition. Every game comes with both its negatives and positives. So, what we do is take the negatives from here and go back home to try to work on them.
“It was a keenly-contested game and there are no small or big teams in this competition. But it still served as a good test for my team ahead of our campaign in the top-flight next season.
“Our opponents today were tough and resilient and, as far as I am concerned, the two goals were just the difference between both sides.
“You can play all the ball you want to play, but if you don’t score, you remain at par with your opponents in the field of play.
“We took our chances when we had them and that made all the difference,” he said.
On his target in the Cup competition, the coach said: “I don’t set targets. I believe we will get to where God wants us to reach.”
On the team’s preparation for life in the NPFL, the coach said his team was for now glad to have already gained promotion into the NPFL.
”But we will still be taking part in the Super 4 to confirm the winners of the 2021/2022 NNL.
“Like every other team, we intend to strengthen our weak points and start preparations early, ahead of the 2022/2023 NPFL season.
“Moving from the NNL to the NPFL is a different ball game. Having said that, we will surely cross the bridge when we get there,” he said.
Speaking also, Aminu Musa, Head Coach of Junior Katsina United, said his team lost to a more experienced side, adding that the game was a learning curve for his team.
“It was unfortunate my team lost, but I am happy we gave our best against a more experienced team.
“Our greatest undoing was that we missed some of our good and more experienced players through injuries. So, we had no choice but to manage with the younger players available.
“But having said that, I must give credit to our opponents as they deserved to win.
“So, we will go back and correct all our mistakes and come back a better team in our next campaign,” he said.(NAN)