Football is undeniably the most popular sports in Nigeria and it often leaves the media with a considerable amount of talking points to feed the populace. Unfortunately, Abdu Maikaba is not a popular subject that throws himself into the headlines, but the Kano-born tactician lets his football do the talking and loudly enough.
Three games into the current Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, Maikaba’s side, Plateau United, are leading the NPFL standings having won all their matches. This is the first time a team in the league has won all their opening three matches of the campaign since the 2017 season when the Jos-based club achieved the feat and eventually lifted the title at the end of the season. Is NPFL now ready to celebrate the impeccable acumen of Maikaba?
There is no poignant answer for this question irrespective of what some praise singers want you to believe, although there is an argument that his mettle could have been better tested had he spent more than two seasons at any of his previous clubs as a head coach.
Nevertheless, Maikaba is not new to the terrain of coaching in the Nigerian football system. His tenure in charge of FC Abuja coupled with his assistant roles at Kano Pillars and Enyimba unarguably prepared him for the first head coach role in the NPFL – with Wikki Tourists.
The set up of his appointment at the Bauchi based club was accompanied with a timed bomb of failure for him to defuse. Wikki Tourists were a newly promoted club to the NPFL and replaced Tunde Abdulrahman, the man responsible for their promotion, with an unproven Maikaba in 2015. New coach, newly promoted club… it is always a battle to beat the drop.
Despite having a relatively inexperienced set of players to work with, Maikaba’s Wikki Tourists arguably played the best style of football when he took charge as the team finished fourth on the NPFL standings, narrowly missing out on qualification for the CAF Confederation Cup on inferior goal difference to Nasarawa United.
Some football managers are known for a certain trend in their temperament, results, and tenure; such as Jose Mourinho’s third season syndrome. Maikaba masterfully gained prominence in this discussion, albeit for improving results.
The Kano-born tactician has never spent more than two seasons with an NPFL club, but he has a knack for ensuring a better outing in the second season of tenure than his debut campaign at the club.
Maikaba led Wikki Tourists to a third-place finish in 2016 as the Giant Elephants qualified for a continental tournament for the first time since 2008. In what became a famous season for Wikki Tourists, Teacher, as Maikaba is widely called by many, made stars out of players such as Godwin Obaje, Mubarak Umar, and Ibrahim Muazam Alhassan among others.
Success is often acquired through some gutsy decisions that easily violate the rule of thumb. The opportunity to lead a team for a continental campaign is enticing to several managers, but Maikaba decided to ditch that in favour of a fresh challenge with Akwa United where he spent another set of two seasons.
The beauty of football easily radiates down the surface of consistency, and as many may not have noticed, a team coached by Maikaba perpetually worships an attacking philosophy that does justice with enviable results.
Maikaba’s coaching style has proven to be highly optimized with enviable statistics in both attack and defense. The Teacher has also fairly backed his philosophy up with a trophy after he lifted the Federation Cup title with Akwa United in 2017.
Now, though, his first season in charge of current club Plateau United was a far cry from his standard with the team avoiding relegation by just a matter of goal difference. However, slowly but surely, Maikaba is transforming the tales of his tenure with wins and convincing displays in matches this season.
The comeback 2-1 win over Wikki Tourists on Sunday might have earned Plateau United an early tag as one of the favorites to lift the title, but the calm and lanky figure of Maikaba keenly orchestrating from the sideline will prove pivotal in the nurturing of such ambition.
Perhaps, at the end of the season, the Nigerian football circle will see Maikaba for an attack-minded and tactical coach that his past accomplishments have proven him to be.