The recent appointment of Chairman Christian Chukwu as the General Manager and Chief Executive officer of Rangers International Football club of Enugu has elicited some comments in some quarters, some had applauded the Enugu State government for this appointment as they described it as a good step in right direction while some had equally expressed their fear that Chukwu should have been allowed to continue as the technical director, a post he held till his recent appointment. The sports editor of Amen Supernews, Mr Chibuzor Nwoye thought it wise and very expedient to interview Chukwu on many teething issues ranging from his football and coaching careers and most importantly, his recent appointment as General Manager/ Chief executive officer of Rangers International Football Club.
Amen Sports– Good afternoon, chairman Christian Chukwu.
Chukwu- Good afternoon my brother.
Amensports- May I start by congratulating you on your recent appointment as the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Rangers International football club of Enugu by his Excellency, the Governor of Enugu state, Rt. Hon Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Chukwu-Thank you very much. It is the lord’s doing.
Amensports- How do you feel? Were you expecting this appointment?
CHUKWU-Well, honestly, I was not expecting it. I think the governor trusts me. To sum it up, it came to me as a surprise but I believe that Governor Ugwuanyi knew I can do the job and he gave it to me. I give God the glory as I thank our governor for finding me worthy for this enviable post.
Amensports- if I may digress a little bit, a lot of persons do not know that you played for this country, won laurels and had as well coached so many clubs, countries and many more. Could you please enumerate your football and coaching career before this your recent appointment?
Chukwu-you just asked me for a very long story. If I start narrating my football and coaching career,you may not go today but I will like to inform you that my football career started when I was in primary school at Christ church uwani, Enugu. I later moved to National Grammar school Nike for my secondary education and from there to Rangers international FC. I was incorporated into Rangers in 1972. In 1974, I became the captain of the team, from Rangers I joined the national team, the then Green Eagles as well became the captain. I continued playing for both Rangers and Green eagles till 1980, when we won the Nations cup and remember, I was the captain of the team. That Nations cup was the first Nations cup Nigeria will be winning, then in 1981, I retired from active football.
Amensports-Sir, from your record , you said you started playing active football from 1972 and retired in 1981 , if I may ask, was the time not short or did you retire as a result of injury?
Chukwu——No No! really, I stopped on my own and I thanked God it was not as a result of injury. Now coming to coaching job, I won the last cup Rangers won hitherto to last year’s own in 1984. From this 1984, I was drafted to the national team under sixteen team where we went to china in 1985 and won the first edition of that under sixteen tournament called kodac 1985.When I came back from tournament, I pitched my tent with the then Iwuanyawu National Football Club of Owerri. From Iwuanyanwu National , I came back to Rangers again. Then after a short stint with Rangers, I travelled to Lebanon, from Lebanon to Kenya, and from Kenya, I came backto Nigeria. I took over the Super Eagles until 2006. Remember I was the chief Coach under Clement Westerhorf’s team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and qualified for World Cup for the first time with Super Eagles. I went back also to now Heartland FC where we won the then challenged Cup, back-to-back and so on and so forth. They are too many to be remembered.
Amensports——- That has been a wonderful and intimidating resume you just narrated to me now. Now, apart from this your recent appointment, have you ever been appointed or worked in any club as their General Manager before?
Chukwu——- Oh yes! I was the first General Manager of Rangers when the military was in power under the regime of Mike Torey. I was the then General Manager while Jonny Egbonu was the first Chairman. So it is not a new job to me. And remember that when you are handling any National team, you are a manager. So coming back to Rangers is not a new thing to me because I have managed Rangers in so many capacities in the past.
Amensports——-Now, having worked in Rangers in this capacity before, how do you intend to go about it now, considering the fact that many people think that you might not be able to do it and a lot of persons are having the skeptical feelings that you might have run short of knowledge of modern football?
Chukwu——-Well, I do not know what they mean by managing a club. Maybe, its themselves that do not know what managing of a club means. Let me be quick to tell you that I have once worked in the sports council where I have risen to a Director of sports. Handling any national team, clubs as someone who has risen to a directorship in the ministry of sports, have I not acquired enough experience about management? Maybe, people who are saying these things were little when I handled those positions in the past. Anyway, they are entitled to their opinions .I have managed Rangers so many times and have won laurels, so this is not the first time. First and foremost, I have to thank in no small measure the Governor of Enugu State for having confidence in me, for giving me this job. I believe he gave me this job based on my records. I think the most important thing for me now is to make sure that Rangers starts winning again. You know that when a club starts winning her matches, three quarters of your job is done. So we are going to look critically in the team. Though it is not as if we are not playing well, we are playing well, I think our problem now is finishing (that is; scoring of goals). We use to have so many scoring chances without utilizing them and you know football is all about scoring goals. We are going to look into the sponsorship of the club because Government alone can not do it. We need people to come and invest in Rangers so that money will not be issue. I believe that once there is money, our job will be done perfectly. It is not every time you go cap in hand begging for government for money as you know that football money is immediate. Football is not something you will wait for this file to go to the other office and come back, by then, you must have lost your match. So, we are going to work seriously on how we can get sponsorship for the club so that Government burden will reduce.
Amensports——-Thank you very much, you know Rangers have played five matches, lost one, won one and drew three. You once said that you people will work and make sure Rangers start scoring, are you saying now that the only problem Rangers is having at the moment is scoring of goals. what of other departments, are they ok?
Chukwu——– You know the problem Rangers is having now, it is easy to become champions but very difficult to sustain it. Any team coming to play against Rangers do have extra preparations because they want to play the champions. I believe that this is what we are going to instill into the players, that any club that is going to play them, they should play them like the champions. Because once they know at the back of their minds that they are the champions, they will play above their opponents and good results will start coming.
Amensports—— In some quarters, they said that your relationship with Rangers Coach, Imama has not been cordial. Now that you have assumed office, people are thinking that you will not give him the free hand to operate. Did you agree with that? Are you having any problem with him?
Chukwu—— That ‘s why I said that people criticizing don’t know what they are saying .Do you know that before I became or they gave me this my new post, I was the Technical Director of Rangers International and Imama was under my department as everything. We guided him and we worked together until we won the cup last season. So, am I a new person to him or what? What will bring the quarrel? The only thing I will tell you is that they don’t understand the system and the young lad in question in doing his best. If he is not doing well, his team will not be getting the type of chances they are getting. I will only advice him to do some finishing touches, he is a good coach and our team is not bad, never mind we started poorly. Even last season, we started with a loss against kano pillars in kano. what we are going for is 38 matches and not five that had been played. So, good spirited individuals should come out and support us especially in our continental engagements financially and morally. I can assure you Rangers will bounce back.
Amensports——Lastly sir, lets assume you have fans and supporters of Rangers International before you now and you are to address them upon your new appointment, what will you tell them?
Chukwu——– Eeem, I will tell them that without them, we can not succeed because they are the catalysts through which Rangers will succeed. They should not relent in their support because Rangers as we all know means a lot to every Igbo man.
Amensports—— Thank you very much sir for your patience and time to speak to Amensports.
Chukwu——— Thanks and remain blessed