Akwa United captain Ottobong Effiong is confident that his team can gatecrash into the title race in next season's Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) despite their unimpressive outing last season.
The Promise Keepers last season finished in 14th position with 47 points, 16 less than the eventual winners, Rangers International but Effiong believes that the Uyo club have a lot of surprise in the offing for the 2017 season and followers of the league should expect them among the title contenders.
The full-back explained that the appointment Abdu Maikaba as the team's coach as well as the "recruitment of new and experienced players" will help Akwa United in the new season.
"Last season was not the best for us. We started well but somehow things just did not work out at the end as we hoped for, and at the same time, a number of our best players had to leave for clubs abroad. That is not to say the rest of us are not good enough but these things happen and it can affect any team.
"In the coming season, I want to assure our fans that Akwa United can compete for the title and with the best club. When we won the Federation Cup last year, we were not the favourites but we still went on to win it and I am confident that we can do great things as a team.
"Right now we have a very good coach (in Maikaba) and he has brought in some of the best players in the country to join us. Once again the competition (for starting places) in the team has gone up more than before. Everyone wants to impress the coach and play in the team which is good for us, and the coach is a very good man who is patient," Effiong told nigeriasoccernet in Lagos this week.
However, will Akwa United be concerned about any of the big clubs in the league or the newly-promoted ones? Effiong responded that the team, for now, the focus on preparing for the new season and not which teams they should be wary of.
But Effiong also has his eyes fixed on their opening day game of the season at newly-promoted ABS FC.
"It is too early to talk about which teams we should be concerned about or not. But we will focus on one game after another. First we have a game to play on the first day of the season against ABS FC and we have to be ready for that because newly-promoted teams are always difficult like MFM FC showed last season," Effiong said.