Oriental Derby: Yema says respect for Ilechukwu won’t stop Enyimba

Ahead the Cathedral showdown in Enugu, Enyimba head coach, Yemi Daniel Olanrewaju popularly known as Yema, has warned that though he respects Rangers Fidelis Ilechukwu as a senior colleague, the match is about defending the club’s colours.

He would be leading Enyimba to Enugu where the two top teams face off at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium with swashbuckling Ilechukwu in the opposite dug-out. After hailing Ilechukwu as his senior and who would have been his boss at the defunct MFM, Yemi warned, “but everyone has to defend his club and try to get the job done”.

“He is a great guy I have a lot of respect for and nothing will change no matter the results in Enugu”.

“Ilechukwu is a senior and more like a big brother to me. He left MFM when I got there and we have a good relationship”.

Still on the Matchday 35 winner-takes-all fixture, Yemi described it as going to be “a tough game, league decider if you ask me. Rangers look like the favorites but we’ll fight till the end”

He admitted to not having much scouting of the opponents saying, “I don’t think I know them much. The way they started the season is not the way they are playing now and the formation is also different with personnels”.

This lack of deep knowledge of the Enyimba team coupled with their inability to defeat the Flying Antelopes in Aba is not something the Coach is worried about as Accord to him, “if our two points had not been unfortunately deducted, we should be on the same points now”.

Yemi could be described as one of the new generation coaches in the Nigeria football ecosystem. He is a young Turk in the football management business with ship sized ambitions and you only have to watch his animated gesticulations on the side lines during matches to agree with this tag.

Promoted to the position of Head Coach in the wake of Finidi George’s appointment as Super Eagles manager, Yema as his fans call him is unfazed by the king-size task thrown on his young shoulders in coaching. He is barely five years into the business after starting off with Magate in 2019.

Asked if this was going to be his season of big statement as a coach, Yema played it down but insisted that he is not being boastful in claiming some credit for Enyimba’s performance so far.

“I don’t think it is a season of a big statement for me, I don’t want to praise myself but I have done well with the club even before being appointed after my big ‘bro’ Finidi left for eagles. I have handled the team for two months while he was away at AFCON and many qualifiers matches and everything was going on smoothly”

It is not a light task to work as Coach of a club in a city where the club is hugely loved and expected to return laurels every season. The demands are not lost on him but he would rather dwell on the positives.

“I feel good to be the head coach of a big club like Enyimba. I really want to say thank you to the management led by ‘King’ Nwankwo Kanu for the trust and believe. I also wish to say thank you to Aba fans for the massive love and support I get from them always. It has been fun and interesting with support of everyone out there”.

Enyimba are two points behind Rangers as both teams go into the first of the last four games to end the season.

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