Newly appointed Rangers International head coach Fidelis Ilechukwu believes he already has all the necessary ingredients in place to make his time at the Cathedral a success.

Addressing Let's Gist Naija Football platform during an interview session on Sunday, the former MFM FC, Heartland and Plateau United boss explained what attracted him to the Flying Antelopes, the legacy left by his predecessor Abdu Maikaba and what he hopes to achieve at the club.

Q: Historically, Rangers International is one of the biggest teams as far as Nigerian football is concerned, but the club has underachieved in recent times with their recent league success being the title in 2016. What are you plans to bring back the glory days of the Flying Antelopes? 

Ilechukwu: Rangers International is one of the biggest teams in Nigeria. We would take things one at a time, it's very important to start the foundation gradually. 

Q: What attracted you to the seven-time NPFL champions? How do you hope to improve on the legacy left by coach Abdu Maikaba? A lot are curious about which system you will adopt at Rangers. What should we expect in terms of the way you want the team to play, any plans for players in the youth team of the club?

Ilechukwu: Coach Abdu Maikaba did very well for Rangers in the 2022/23 season. Don't forget that he is one of the best brains we have in Nigeria. The team finished second in the Federation Cup despite their struggles in the league. Don't forget that Rangers played away from home throughout last season. Maikaba did a great job, I will continue from there. The technical decision and playing style of the team would come from me. The financial aspect is very important. We also need to look at the Academy and see what is on ground. I intend to give a couple of young players the chance to showcase themselves. We need to build for the future. The age of the players is very essential because of the business part of it for Rangers.

Q: Big names like Daniel Anyiam, Kosta Papić, Chairman Christian Chukwu, Alphonsus Dike, Okey Emordi, Imama Amapakabo, Gbenga Ogunbote and Abdu Maikaba have managed Rangers in the past. Does that make you nervous as the new custodian of the Cathedral? Do you have any fear of the heightened pressure of expectations in Enugu?

Ilechukwu: The big names you mentioned are my teachers, mentors and fathers. I have worked with a lot of big coaches in the national team and learned a lot. I have the experience needed to put Rangers back in the map. Rangers is a big club and there is no excuse not to deliver. I want to concentrate on the job and achieve beyond what other coaches have done for the club.

Q: You say that your current team has the potential to "capture the fans' imagination". What makes you so confident?

Ilechukwu: Ilechukwu is one of the best in terms of managerial skills. As a Manager you need to give people freedom of speech and find a way to bring out the best from them. No is an Island. You can't be successful without people crucifying and stating their minds. I am ready to answer question at anytime. All these would help us raise a formidable team capable of competing.

Q: What do you have to say about the report that linked you back to MFM before taking up the Rangers job?  

Ilechukwu: MFM FC is me and I'm MFM FC as well. Anything that has to do with MFM FC is something I am usually careful about. They trained, built and nurtured me. MFM FC gave me the chance, confidence, belief and picked me from nowhere. After God, it is MFM. The church is like my parents. I hope MFM FC will return to what it used to be with our support. For now, I'm the coach of Rangers International and don't want to be distracted. But there are so many things to be done for MFM FC return to it glory days. One day we would be on our knees to beg Daddy DK Olukoya to bring MFM FC back.

Q: Nigerian clubs have struggled on the continent for more than a decade now. From your experiences at MFM and Plateau United, what do you think is missing and how can we fix these things to start competing favourably on the continent?

Ilechukwu: NPFL clubs would continue to struggle because we don't keep our best players at the end of the season. They go to teams who will compete against us on the continent. You can't compel a player who will pick up two to three million naira at a foreign club to stay in the NPFL. The money we pay in the league isn't enough to keep our top players. You see them travelling to Tanzania, Egypt and Algeria. But you look at the infrastructure and structure these countries have spent a lot. I usually ask myself why should a player go to Zambia? When you also look at the economic gains blaming the player isn't needed because he will earn more there. We also prepare late and have failed to sort out our travelling arrangements too. 

Q: What is the motivational factor anytime you walk out of the tunnel?

Ilechukwu: It's the crowd. Whenever I see the fans, this gives me joy. The morale is always there when I see the crowd and this makes go extra mile on the touchline on matchdays.

Q: What is your dream job in the Nigerian League?

Ilechukwu: Coaches don't give job. I just want to do any job I'm given. Everything is time, you can't stop time.

Q: After a bad day in office, how do you recover from the mental stress and disappointment that comes from losing a game? Is there anything or someone who makes the recovery process quicker?

Ilechukwu: I usually disappointed after any bad day in office. When this happens, I try to take a shower and rest. After that,  I listen to Music and Dance.

Q: You became a coach at a very young age, what inspired you to coaching instead at that young age Of all the places you worked in the past as a coach, which of these adventures would you say is the most challenging Name five most talented players you have managed as a coach in the past?

Ilechukwu: As an Anambra man who believes so much in business, MFM Pastors really forced and encouraged me a lot. Sometimes when I'm preparing to hustle at Ebute Metta, the Pastors would ensure I go to church. From church to training. I was like someone whom they used Security men to be in the coaching job. All glory goes to God and MFM for the impact they made in my coaching career. The most challenging team I have managed is Heartland Football Club. Anybody who survives managing Heartland is going to be a great coach. I have managed so many good players like Chijioke Akuneto, Stephen Odey, Mohammed Zilkifilu, Austin Opara and Nenrot Silas.

Q: What brought about your mode of dressing and touchline swags in the NPFL? Would you have been a comedian, music star or entertainer? And who is your favourite Nigerian artist?

Ilechukwu: When we look at how Europe coaches dress, I said to myself we can do better. Even in hot weather it is good to wear good suite. By the time you snap picture that's what will show. It's good to dress well. This gives you confidence on the touchline. You must be simple, jovial and funny. A coach should be someone who the player can relate with. I love to make people around me happy. People should be happy whenever they see you. I love Olamide and don't joke with my dancing routine.

Q: Do you desire to manage the Super Eagles in future Who is your role model as a coach?

Ilechukwu: Managing Super Eagles is the dream of any coach in Nigeria. I wish with time that dream becomes a reality. It will be the best career move for my as a coach. But there is no pressure to be the Manager of Super Eagles in future. It's all about time. My role model is Jose Mourinho. He is someone I love with passion. I prepare very well to see Mourinho's games. He brings the best out of referees, fans and even the Media. His defensive pattern gives me goosebumps. Everyone wants to hear from him before and after any game. I also love Pep Guardiola's possessive pattern. The touchline reaction of Diego Simeone fascinates me too. I combine all these attributes to make everything fun.

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