Ventspils Head Coach Paul Ashworth, recently guided his club to qualify for the Europa Cup tournament, after winning five matches and getting a draw. The former Kwara Football Academy Technical Director recently had a chat with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE from his base in Latvia on the likely challenges that Ventspils will face at Europa. Please read on.
S.I: Congrats on your qualification for the Europa cup, how do you feel?
I feel fine, I joined Ventspils last year in September and we won 5 games and drew 1 in the last six games to qualify by finishing third in the league last November. Now is a new season and I’m focusing on that, not so much on the Europa league, that will start in July
S.I: Sevilla have dominated the Europa cup winning it three consecutive times, do you think your team can make a significant impact in Europa when league resumes?
Our league has resumed, we started in March and are currently in first place in the league. We start in the qualifiers and realistically it would just be a great achievement to qualify for the group stages. To make an impact in the group stages would be virtually impossible for a Latvian club. To even qualify would be a major achievement, only once in Latvian history has a club qualified and that was Ventspils in 2011
S.I: Is it that you do not have the right players in Ventspils or what?
No our budget is around 1 million euros a year, for the whole club, our maximum salary is €1,500 a month, if you compare with bigger European countries it is not realistic to compete
S.I: Okay, but you did something similar to this while in KFA in Nigeria, when you led a debutant and low-rated side to the final of the shell cup and won it, how did you achieve that feat then?
That was different, it was with players and budgets of a similar standard, in fact we may have had the best budget at KFA, I don’t think you can compare. Incidentally we have two Nigerian players, Adebayo Abigun, who played for me at Sunshine Stars, and Alfa who was a World Cup winner with Nigerian U-17 in 2014
S.I: Are you saying that the budget then in KFA is better than what you have now in Ventspilis?
No, I’m saying that the budget was better in KFA then than other academies in Nigeria
S.I: Okay thank you for making out time to chat with us