Nduka Leads Taraba’s Quest For Honours In NPFL

Taraba United have come a long way from their founding days in 1991 under Coach Peter ‘Pepe’ Kumi, who incidentally managed the Jalingo-based side from Nigeria National League, NNL, to the Glo Premier League at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Pepe has been in and out of the team and will this season, be a backroom staff to Technical Adviser, Ndubuisi Nduka, a seasoned campaigner in the elite league.
As the excitement grows in the largely agrarian Taraba State famed as the food basket of Nigeria and home to the famous Gembu highlands, Nduka spoke of a resolve to ensure that the fire of top flight football will keep blazing in the state.
“Make no mistake about our ambitions, Taraba United may not win the league at first try but the club are also not competing just to make up the numbers”, insisted Nduka shortly after a meeting with the Management team that also has former Super Eagles winger, Tijani Babangida on board.
Nduka has had stints at Plateau United, the team that brought him into national reckoning and has since worked with such other top sides as Dolphins, Sharks, El-Kanemi and Heartland. But he says the assignment at Taraba United is very unique and an opportunity to make a statement.
Previewing the opening Match Day clash with Nasarawa United, the former Heartland Coach described it as very crucial to meeting our expectation for the season.
In his words, “We are mindful of the fact that the first outing of the season will go a long way in shaping the orientation of the fans towards the squad and they are yet to come to terms that Premier League football has come to their town.
“We want to start well and we will be throwing everything into the game to win within the rules. So the players have resolved to play a game of their life knowing that Nasarawa are no pushovers. Winning this game will help us hold the fans and build a formidable followership ahead of tougher games”.
The Jolly Nyame Stadium has only recently been completed and it is causing a buzz within the squad including the Coach who described it a catalyst for good football.
“The quality of the turf is an impetus for good performance. We have a stadium that can be compared to the National Stadium in Abuja in terms of facilities and the flip side is my players would have to grapple with adjusting to less endowed turfs when we play away”, Nduka mused.
But then, the jitters of playing for the first time in top flight cadre is a real concern to fans and observers and Nduka responded… “the squad we have assembled is a mix of experience and youth. We have reinforced the team with a good number of tested players, some of whom have played continental and international competitions.
“There is Obinna Nwokolo from Akwa United who has played for the home-based Super Eagles, Solar Izuakor coming from Elkanemi, Sam Aruwa and Buhari Halim from Kaduna United.
“We also attracted the likes of Fidelis Saviour from Enyimba, Lazarus Chukwu from Warri Wolves, Husseini Adaji from Lobi Stars and goalkeepers Richard Ochie and Udo Ochogu and have retained quality players from the old squad like Hashimu Haliru, Terhemen Adzinda and Abdulmalik Mohammed”.
In some of the pre-season friendly matches played to test-run their new ground, Taraba United met Gombe United, Lobi Stars and Rangers International but their best result of the three games was a draw after losing the rest two.
“For us it would have been nice to win the friendly matches but the overriding objective was to assess the level of fitness of the players, how good they have blended and also assess how they are able to execute tactical designs we have put in place. We were satisfied and the fans were obviously happy as they returned in higher numbers after each game”, explained the light complexioned Gaffer.
His closing words, “I don’t have a tall and difficult mandate. I have not been told that we must secure a continental ticket but to ensure that the team retained their status as a Premier League side at the end. This is very possible and with the quality of support we have from the State and the Management, we will reciprocate with much more than they have demanded”.

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