Chief coach of newly promoted El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, Kelechi Emetoele has played down fears of insecurity in the Borno State capital owing to activities of the dreaded religious sect, Boko Haram, saying that football was perhaps, the tonic needed to cancel such fears.
In a chat with media in his hotel room in Ojodu, Lagos Monday, Coach Emetoele said “we have been having a wonderful time in Maiduguri. In Nigeria today, nowhere is safe. You hear of kidnappings in the South and all sort of things in other parts of the country, some natural while others man-made causes. Nowhere is safe in Nigeria,” he said repeatedly.
Asked about the conduct of fans, particularly in deference to the presence of Boko Haram in the city, Emeteole raised his voice. “The atmosphere during our home matches has always been electrifying. Even the Boko Haram people love football. We have never recorded any incident throughout the season. Even the visiting teams can testify.”
Coach Emetoele who still bears bitterness against his former club, Heartland Football Club of Owerri said he went to Maiduguri to prove a point. He has largely been vindicated as he has piloted the modest Maiduguri based club- though with a rich history- to gain promotion to Nigeria’s top flight and now in the round of 16 of the Federation Cup.
“Heartland treated me badly, I was a pioneer player in the club, rose to become the captain and subsequently became player/coach. My first year as a coach we missed the League crown by just one point behind Rangers and went on to represent Nigeria in the WAFU Cup.
We played in the final and lost the first leg in Lagos 0-1 to Hassacas of Ghana but were able to hold them 0-0 in Accra. I still feel sad the way I was treated by Heartland. I took them to Champions League final too.”