Kano Pillars before their 1pm fixture in Abuja in January

By Fisayo Dairo

NIgerian
League champions Kano Pillars have a date with destiny on Easter Saturday
against Moroccan Champions Moghreb Atletic de Tetouan in a second leg first
round clash in the 2015 CAF Champions League.
One
wonders the sort of coincidence that this game brings, clashing with Easter
Saturday, a day when Christians celebrating Easter across the globe believe the
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (over 2000 years ago) was still in the tomb,
waiting for the greatest miracle of all time to resurrect back to life. Yes!
That miracle happened, and so this writer believes another miracle, this time
on the pitch can happen for Kano Pillars. We have had the Damman Miracle, we
witnessed the Istanbul Miracle and I think another one may just be in the
offing.
To
refresh your memory, Kano Pillars lost by a whopping 4 goals to nil away in
Tetouan (a fortnight ago to Easter Saturday), against this team that featured
at the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. Mohsine Iajour was the man that
netted a hattrick against the Nigerian Champions and makes this a mountainous
task for the Northerners.
It
is quite unthinkable to imagine a team with a 4-0 cushion will fail to progress
over two legs BUT this is Africa where anything CAN happen. It has to be said
that despite their wonderful preparations for this year’s CAFCL, the armed
robbery attack on the Pillars team on Thursday March 5, 2015 seemingly left
them in tatters with key players suffering gunshot wounds. One of them was
Gambo Mohammed who is still out till the present moment.
Well,
that is bygone and Pillars themselves realized what task they have in their
hands and started strategizing for this second leg immediately after that
embarrassing first leg loss. First was their decison to have today’s game
played at 2pm Nigerian time which should serve as some sort of advantage with
the weather.
TIME FACTOR
Many
have argued that Pillars themselves would be affected by the weather but I dare
state here that during the last Glo Premier League Super Four-Invitational
Tournament in Abuja, Pillars played their first match at 1pm and their last
four games at 3pm, this is within range because I was in Abuja for those games
and I think a January weather in Abuja can’t be too far from what is obtainable
in Kano.
KEY PLAYERS
Furthermore,
the absence of key men such as Gambo Mohammed and rather unfortunately
Christian Obiozor is another reason to be pessimistic but then Adamu Hassan was
Pillars’ topscorer in the league last term and along with the likes of Abdul
Haruna (who can be a handful aerially) and Adamu Mohammed, Pillars have enough
going forward.
POSITIVES FROM THE
FIRST LEG
You
may be surprised to wonder if there are any positives from a 4-0 bashing but
yes there is one (for me). After Iajour’s 7 minutes of madness/brilliance in
the first half, Pillars did not concede in the 2nd half until very late in the
game. This means Pillars are not as bad as what they did in the first half and
Tetouan may have also been flattered in that first half. They also managed to
create a couple of clear cut chances which were not converted.
THEY WILL CREATE
CHANCES
I’m
sure very many will agree with me on this. A team that boasts of some
enterprising wingers such as Tony Edjomariegwe, Ezekiel Mbah, Azeez Shobowale
and other attackers will create good chances but they have to be calm and
composed to finish it off.
The
fans will be there, adrenalin will be pumping to the heavens but yes, football
is a game of pressure. In the face of everything, be calm and see it out even
if you don’t get the early goal(s) you may be dreaming of.
I HAVE HISTORY
HERE:
The
last time any Nigerian team faced a Moroccan side was at the African Nations
Championships (CHAN 2014), Nigeria trailed Morocco 3-0 at half time in that
quarter-final duel at the Cape Town Stadium in South Africa but guess what,
Stephen Keshi’s boys rose from the dead to level in the second half and win in
extra-time.
If
that team that included Pillars’ Rabiu Ali can score three goals in the second
half alone, folks, Pillars can score 5 in 90 minutes.
The
last time a Nigerian side achieved something close to this comeback was in 2011
when Sunshine Stars lost 4-1 in Angola against Recreativo do Libolo and they
came back in Ijebu-Ode to secure their 3-0 win and progress.
IAJOUR FACTOR
This
is the fourth time (in my memory) that Mohsine Iajour will come up against
Nigerian oppositions. While he always laugh at the start, he’s never had a last
laugh.
 – At the AYC in 2005, Iajour scored twice
against Nigeria in the semi-finals including a first half extra-time goal. With
seconds remaining, Obinna Nsofor scored a solo effort to take the game to
penalties where Nigeria won.
 – Later at the WYC in Holland, Iajour was one
of the topscorers but Nigeria thrashed his Moroccan side in the semi finals.
 – Iajour also scored one of the 3 goals in the
CHAN game I mentioned earlier but ended up on the losing side again.
 MATCH DETAILS: Kano Pillars vs Moghreb Tetouan
 VENUE: Sani Abacha Satdium, Kano
 TIME: 2PM
 Referee: Kouame Ndri (Coted’voire)
It
is the Easter weekend and I have this feeling in me that (sounding like my Dad
now, a Pastor), Something that will shake the foundations of soccer in Nigeria
nay Africa is about to happen in the City of Kano.
I
won’t be able to watch but I will definitely keep tabs on it knowing that in
the season if Sai Sai, Sai Masu Gida will rewrite the history books.
Happy
Easter y’all. ALOHA
Picture:
Kano Pillars’ team before their 1pm fixture in Abuja in January.

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