By Amaechi Agbo
All is set for the commencement of the 7th edition of the most prestigious grassroots football tournament in Nigeria, Dreamland/Embassy of Hungary Cup Championship in Abuja today, November 12, 2019.
To herald the tournament, the organisers of the competition Monday conducted screening for the 12th participating teams.
The screening which held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, had over 350 players, team officials as well as the organisers all eager to get the competition going.
Speaking after the screening, coordinator of the tournament, Dr Robinson Okosun described the exercise as a huge success and called on the players and coaches to be professional and mature when expressing their complaints.
“We are happy we have conducted the screening which is the defining moment of the tournament. Few issues expectedly came up, for instance, nobody or player will be happy being screened out.
“And also some other issues like late arrival of some teams and players but generally it was a huge success and it is a stamp that we are ready for the competition tomorrow.
“It is also important to appeal to the players and team handlers to be professional when they want to register their complaints.
“Of course, we are humans and will not ascribe perfection to ourselves therefore we might have made one or two mistakes but we tried our best to make it minimal,” he told the tournament media team.
Some of the coaches who spoke commended the organisers for the professional way the screening was conducted and expressed their readiness to start the tournament on Tuesday.
Defending champions, Dreamland Football Academy will battle Jazzy Stars in the opener by 8am on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, coaches of various football clubs and academies participating at the championship have been talking tough ahead of the opening matches today.
Some of the coaches who spoke to our correspondent at the screening of the participating teams on Monday commended the organisers for a great screening exercise but vowed that they have come to assert themselves in the tournament and leave footprints on Sunday the final day.
According to My Team Africa (MTA) Football Club coach from Enugu state, Aneke Chinedu, his team are in the tournament not only to play in the final but to win the tournament.
Coach Chinedu who praised the organisers for conducting a very transparent and honest screening exercise expressed confidence that his boys are equal to the hurdle ahead.
“We are happy to be here. The distance from our state to the FCT tells you a lot about our passion and commitment to grassroots football development.
“We did not come here to make the numbers. We are here to play in the final and if we play in the final, we are going to lift the cup.
“The cup is not our major target. Our target is to ensure that at the end of the day one or two of our players are selected by the European scouts who are coming to the tournament. And one thing is sure, the higher you go in the competition, the greater your chances of having some of your players picked. So that is our target,” he said.
On his part, coach Karma Obadaya of Chimoosky FC, said the team is in the tournament to make a mark.
He stressed that his target is to lead the boys to the final and while playing down on the trophy which he said is of lesser importance compared with at least one of his players being selected, commended the organisers for a wonderful screening exercise.
“I do not lay emphasis on the trophy, it is a distraction to me, so to say. This is grassroots football which serves as scouting ground for players who distinguished themselves in the field of play.
“Of course the trophy is a motivation so to speak but my primary target is to make sure that my team played a good football such that we will have at least one player selected by the scouts.
“Secondly, I want to commend the organisers for conducting a transparent screening. I am not happy that some of my players were screened out but they did a great job and I commend them,” he said.