Katsina United may have lost substance in Abdullahi Usman Biffo’s departure, but Ademetan Abayomi believes they have replaced him with style in Henry Ayodele Makinwa.
The larger-than-life Coach Abdullahi Biffo achieved one magnificent feat while at Katsina United – he maintained their top-flight status, steadied their shop and made them hard to beat. All the while, he was working upon a backdrop of insecurity and instability.
Last season in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Katsina United beat the drop thanks to a 2-0 victory over Enyimba International on the final matchday at the Mohammodou Dikko Stadium.
Survival was celebrated by die-hard fans of Katsina United. Traditional teams like Elkanemi Warriors, Niger Tornadoes and Kwara United failed to beat the dreaded relegation.
At the end of the season, it had become clear it was time for Katsina United and Biffo to move along.
Tensions grew ever more strained in the final months of the season as financial strife drove a wedge between management and tactician, which eventually culminated in Biffo’s departure this summer.
So, how have the Changi Boys replaced the man who had essentially given his all for the club? Well, with style for one.
Makinwa was appointed before the 2019 Ahlan Cup. The former ABS FC and Abia Warriors gaffer is an interesting case. The focus on a group ethic and tenacity across the 90 minutes are apparent in the style of Makinwa as they were at Katsina United under Biffo- high pressing, double-teaming in defensive zones and an active defensive line. Similarities end there, though, as the new man at Katsina United prefers more of a pattern in the attacking forays.
Teams Makinwa guides are a pleasure to watch, and especially so in the attack. He always delivers a fluid and attractive system that picks teams apart with wonderful precision. His teams depend heavily on an organiser to distribute the ball and another to screen the defence. In attacking transitions they usually look to overload in wide areas.
Off the field, Makinwa is a demanding character to the players, but that was transmitted positively, hence the promotion of ABS FC in the 2016/17 Nigeria National League season. If there was any fault in the style, it is his lack of attention towards strategic areas of the game. ABS FC was poor with their set-pieces and suffered when up against them too.
The positives truly outweigh the negatives though. The Katsina United squad is an assortment of young players and those in their mid-20s.
Their form at the Ahlan Cup gave hope of something tangible to come in the 2019/20 campaign.
Fast forward to Ahlan Cup in Kano – the quality that Tasiu Lawal, Frank Kappe, Usman Bara’u and Paul Danjuma gave the hint of what to expect in future.
Katsina United are never short on the spirit, but with a dash of style, Henry Ayodele Makinwa will look to make this a special season in the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League.