By Fisayo Dairo
Any time Kano Pillars visit Rivers United in Nigeria’s top-flight league, it is always an occasion that brings hundreds of members of the Northern community in the city of Port Harcourt to the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in the heart of the city.
Sunday’s Match Day 21 clash between both sides had an extra dimension to it as it was Pillars striker Nyima Nekabari Nwagua’s first appearance in front of his own people in 24 months. Tens of family members and well-wishers thronged the stadium, donning the Number 28 jersey of the ‘Ogoni Man’.
Although Nwagua’s effort was ultimately not enough to earn his team a result against Rivers United, the burly striker did enough to draw sporadic applause from his supporters on the day.
“It feels good playing in front of your people and I want to use this opportunity to thank all my fans; my brothers and sisters that came all out to support me,” began Nwagua to www.npfl.ng
“I want them to know that despite the fact that we lost, we really appreciate the fact that they turned out to support me today. I’m grateful to them.”
Back to back defeats
In spite of a trademark free-kick by Pillars’ legendary captain Rabiu Ali in stoppage time, Sai Masu Gida still lost the game 1-2 as they recorded their first back-to-back defeats since MatchDay 4 of the current season.
They had earlier lost 0-1 to Rangers International at the Cathedral on Wednesday in a rescheduled game. The consecutive losses seem to have finally put paid to the hopes of Pillars to finish in a top-three spot this term but Nwagua, winner of the 2019 Aiteo Cup with the club believes otherwise.
“With Pillars, anything is possible!” the CHAN Eagles star stated.
“I’m not writing my team off because we started badly but I know very well we are going to get back to the right position for Pillars. I can boastfully say that.
“It feels really disappointing because this is the first time, we are dropping two games back to back. We came out to get a result in at least one of the games but unfortunately, we could not get anyone.
“I think from the way it has happened now, we just have to go back home and rearrange for the next game on Sunday,” he added.
Football journey and advice to upcoming stars
After a couple of years in the hustling phase of grassroots football, Nwagua got his break when he joined Go Round FC before the 2014 Nigeria National League (NNL) season. Like many other youths in the Ogoni region, the striker featured for Indomitable Lions of Bori where he was spotted by the “Dare the Lions” side.
Nwagua gradually worked his way to the top. After captaining Go Round to the Rivers state FA Cup crown in 2016 (beating Rivers United in the final), he joined Lobi Stars where he spent just six months before Kano Pillars signed him in mid-season of 2017.
At Pillars, he has since become an undisputed figure in the team and has started each of their twenty (20) league games in the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season. For him, it has been hard work all through, a legacy he is passing to upcoming ones.
“The only advice I have for the ones coming up is for them to be focused and believe in God. No dream is too big to achieve,” said Nwagua.
“It is not an easy race but as long as you believe in God and believe in yourself and work hard towards it, I don’t see any dream that is too much for someone to attain,” submitted the fast-talking striker who earned his first cap for the Super Eagles last year.