By Angu Lesley
Football Writer, kick442.com-Cameroon
Former Tiko United trainer Martin Nkabyo has told kick442.com that he has never seen or worked with someone who had the believe in his capacity like his one-time boss at Tiko United FC, Alain Wabo.
Speaking in a recent conversation with this news agency, coach Nkabyo, now of Cameroon Elite One outfit YOSA of Bamenda said he only had good memories of the man with whom he was trainer for Tiko United FC in 2007.
The duo masterminded Tiko United’s promotion to the Cameroon top-flight in 2007 and played a pivotal role in paving the way for the Samba Boys scoop their only Cameroon Elite One title till date though both men had stints away before the title success.
Coach Alain Wabo and Martin Nkabyo did some of recruitment and preparations of the Tiko United team after obtaining promotion. Unfortunately for diversed reasons, coach Wabo left for Panthère and coach Nkabyo return to Bamenda for family reasons though he joined the technical bench towards the end of the season.
11-years down the line, the club’s historic league triumph, just two years after promotion seems like decades ago.
The club is struggling in the third tier Championship with their best league performance in the last five seasons being their semi-final qualification for the Regional playoffs in the 2018 season.
Tiko is no longer United as it use to be. So in the absence of great tales about the club’s present state, kick442.com decided to reminiscent its success 13 years ago during the 2007 national playoffs for promotion [Interpools] in Ebolowa.
Current YOSA Academy of Bamenda coach, Martin Nkabyo tells Kick442.com the story.
Before the story, many are those who believe that, coach Alain Wabo had something different about him which made him see the outcomes of games the day before. We will use an instance here, but don’t get carried away. Wabo was a man with huge devotion and commitment to his work. So it is possible his hard work earned him the possibility of anticipating events days before. After all in coaching, planning is done in a backward manner.
“During our last game of the Interpools in Ebolowa where we needed just a point in our game against YOSA to end the competition as Champions of our pool and gain direct accession to Elite One, while YOSA needed a victory to keep their hopes of competing in the third place playoffs against the second team from the other pool (YOSA could even just qualify directly with a victory and force us to instead play for the third place.) So we needed that point to assure our promotion, and at half time, YOSA was leading Tiko United by one goal to nil. Wabo told me I shouldn’t worry. We would win by two goals to 1. We had a team of committed, young men, so I wasn’t really worried,” coach Nkabyo told kick442.com.
It was indeed not the first time Alain Wabo made a promise or prediction to those around him. So, one could only imagine the confidence he had generated in his boys during his usual succinct half time team talks.
“Upon resumption, Nangeri equalized early into the game from a well taken free kick which left the late goalkeeper Chouamo helpless on the floor,” Coach Nkabyo continues.
“At 1-1, we were already in Elite One. We played on, a few minutes before full time, we decided to bring in some much needed fresh energy to help us manage the game till the end. We concerted and decided to bring in Malick, who was an experienced attacker [going by what we had on the bench]. He was one who could keep the ball upfront and provoke fouls from the opponents and thus manage the last minutes.
“So I sent Malick for the warm-up and asked the young, inexperienced Kimbi to accompany Malick to help warm-up well and fast.
“When I was about to call Malick to give him instructions to go into the game, Wabo called me, and said I should give instructions to Kimbi, not Malick. ‘Kimbi should go in’! I was like, “hey! Kimbi? This guy was the youngest amongst our players. As if that is not enough, he has never had a minute of play during the whole tournament! I asked him again, “Kimbi?”, he nodded. So I gave Kimbi instructions, which were obviously different from what I would have given Malick. So, Kimbi replaced Foe at the 88th minute, and on his first touch of the ball, he scored the winning goal! Alain Wabo at it again!! We jumped on each other, and a few minutes later, the game ended. I looked at Alain Wabo for about a full minute, shoke my head and savoured the moment because it was all hugs and shouting and wonderful scenes of jubilation. Tiko United had just picked up her promotion ticket into Division 1 football after such a long time and in Grand style! We were part of that history-making event that had some very interesting chapters coming up a couple of years down the line”, Coach Martin Nkabyo concluded.
It was a wonderful exploit. At the end of the tournament, YOSA failed to qualify while Tiko United with their emblematic technical bench went on to write unforgettable tales in the history of Cameroon football.
The very determined YOSA fueled by late Bobe Yong Francis finally obtained promotion on the eve the 2009 season.
That 2009 season in which a Tiko United FC team largely put together by coach Alain Wabo and Martin Nkabyo won the title just after Wabo’s departure from the club.
The 2009 season had a handful of coaches who played a pivotal role in completing the great job. Coach John Mayebi, Njili Pierre, Ayissi Dominique and Mbarga Engelbert are two technicians who played who were key in that success.
Coach Alain Wabo died in October 2010 in his late 30’s from a brief illness, but memories of the ex-Renacimento of Malabo gaffer will remain in the minds of football lovers in Tiko and Cameroon football lovers.
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