By Fisayo Dairo
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has often been maligned for years as one dominated by tired, recycled legs but there has been deliberate efforts by teams to change the narrative in the past couple of seasons.
These efforts have also been aided in no small part by a conscious enabling room by the league’s organisers to ensure that youngsters are allowed to develop and take over from the ageing ones, such room which included incentives for parading youngsters from the academy.
One of such youngsters is Kano Pillars star, Fahad Usman; a product of the Pillars academy and although he is now 20, he made his Pillars debut four years ago and has nailed down the left back spot this season.
The adventurous full back was in the NPFL Under-17 All Stars team that participated at the 2017 Gauteng Invitational Tournament in South Africa where he played all games at the tournament.
Usman, once again played for the entire duration as Kano Pillars recorded their first away win of the season against FC Ifeanyiubah in a 0-1 win in Port Harcourt on Monday and he expressed his joy at that feat to www.npfl.ng after the game.
“We thank Allah for the victory. We were eager to score in the first half so we could settle well and Allah helped us to score so we are happy for that.
“The weather played a part especially in the second half which made us suffer but we thank God we held on to win the game,” said Fahad.
Usman is one of few players in the Pillars squad, and indeed in the league to have played every minute of the first nine matches this season, an impressive stat considering the competition for places in the Pillars squad.
He has ensured that experienced stars like Nasiru Sani and Chris Madaki have either been confined to the substitute’s bench or left out from the match day squad entirely since this season started.
The youngster however has a staggering target; to play all games this season.
“I know there are good players in my position but whenever I get a chance to play, I always try to use it. That is how I work. I learn always from everyone around me and by God’s grace, I will play all matches this season,” he said with a wry smile.
Pillars’ only goal on Monday was scored by Auwalu Ali Malam, another product of the Kano Pillars academy. That was the second goal Pillars have scored directly from a free kick this season.
The first free kick goal was scored by Usman himself in the 1-2 away loss to Enyimba on MatchDay 5. He also spoke on the free kick rotation in the team.
“Myself, (Auwalu Ali) Malam and Rabiu (Ali) are good at taking free kicks that’s why one time Rabiu plays, the other time Malam does then another time, I do. We practice a lot in training and I pray to God that I will still score more anytime I play.”
Kano Pillars have now moved up to fourth on the table after Monday’s win, four points behind league leaders Enyimba who will not be on league duties in the next two match days.
Usman is hopeful that Pillars will end their seven-year run without the league title this season.
“By God’s grace we are going to take the title this time. It has been a long time that we won it but everybody in Kano is focused on doing it this time. You can see we are gradually getting the results and we will not rest till we win it,” concluded Fahad Usman.
Up next for Kano Pillars is a home tie with struggling MFM FC at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on Sunday.