By James Agberebi:
Former Enugu Rangers coach, Lawrence Akpokona, says Imama Amapakabo should see his sacking at the Nigerian league champions as part of a learning experience in the coaching job, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Amapakabo led Rangers to their first league title in over 30 years, but was fired on Monday following a string of poor results this term.
Rangers who are currently bottom in the league table, got knocked out of the CAF Champions League.
They are on the verge of crashing out of the CAF Confederation Cup after a 2-2 home draw with Zambia's Zesco United in their first leg play-off tie.
Reacting to Amapakabo's sacking, Akpokona who was close to taking Rangers to the final of the 2004 Confederation Cup but lost to Ghana's Ashanti Kotoko on head to head in the group stage, expressed sadness on the plight of Rangers this season.
"It's part of the job as a coach (getting sacked). I'm not in Rangers, but they are after my heart," Akpokona told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"Each time I look at the league table and see Rangers down there my heart skips a beat," Akpokona lamented.
"Often times I wonder what problem is. Why is this happening to Rangers? On the continent, they are not doing well, in the league they are not doing well. Is it a problem of coaching? Is it the players? Is it the management?
"We are going into week 19 ,and for Rangers to have been at the bottom, it is difficult.
"It has happened to many coaches. For instance look at Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City, he won the league last season against all expectations. In the case of Rangers, we are talking about 32 years, Leicester was over 100 years. But this season he was sacked for poor results. Nobody remembered that after over 100 years Ranieri won the league, he was sacked.
"Every coach must realise that you are as good as your last job. Once the team is not doing well, it is the coach that bears the brunt.
"So every coach particularly the young ones should do everything possible to make sure that their team is doing well. It's unfortunate that Imama has to bear it. But he will come out of it stronger and better.
"Some of us have been through it, he has just experienced his baptism of fire and I believe he has learnt a lot from it."