Coach Ibrahim Dikko of Tojemarine Academy, which won the just-ended National Division One Handball League, tagged Edo 2020, held in Benin, has expressed confidence in his team’s ability to compete favourably against the highly clubs in the Prudent Energy Premier League slated for October in Abuja.
Tojemarine, on Friday, beat hard-fighting Police Machine 20-19 to emerge winner of the second tier handball league played at the Indoor Sports Hall Etete, Benin City in Edo State. And by virtue of playing in the final, both teams gained promotion to feature in the Premier League.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Dikko said the victory achieved by his team was no mean feat, adding that his boys put in a lot of effort with three-month rigorous preparation preceding the championship, as well as, moral and financial backing by the club’s management to boost their morale.
“The entire team is excited winning the championship in Benin and it is a reward for a long time preparation embarked upon by the team while training for the championship. Our almost three months of training for the Edo 2020 paid off.
“We must also commend the chief executive officer of the club for his support. Morally and financially we were encouraged enough to succeed in Benin. Also that should not rule out the determination from the boys, which led to us to winning the championship at the end of the day. The boys had said they wouldn’t just come to Benin and leave without winning the title. And this they did in flying colour,” he said.
Dikko, who looks forward to appearing in the Premier League in October, said, “After winning the championship in Benin, we will go back to restrategise for the Prudent Energy Handball Premier League scheduled for October in Abuja.
“At this point now, as you know, playing in the Division League One is quite different from the Premier League, which is a different competition entirely. We are aware that the Premier League has collection of highly experience sides, but I believe my boys will pick up from where they stopped in Benin.
“If we can play more as a team, I am confident we can match the tough teams in the Premier League. Definitely, we will be going to the Premier League as underdog and we hope to spring a surprise in Abuja by October,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Correction Boys defeated Owena Kings 25 – 12 in the third place match. However, Mohammed Hassan of Police Machine won Highest Goal Scorer award with 63 goals, while Mukaila Fuad of Tojemarine emerged the Best Goal Keeper, Kuti Korede of Tojemarine was adjudged the Most Valuable Player and RIV Bullet won the Fair Play Team award at the nine days championship.