Former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions, Kano Pillars, laboured to a 1-0 victory over visiting Wikki Tourists at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Wednesday in a rescheduled Matchday 8 fixture.
Alassan Ibrahim scored the lone goal directly from a corner kick to hand Sai Masu Gida the full points that took them to third place on the league table.
Wikki Tourists coach Mohammed Baba Ganaru made one change from the squad that lost at Sunshine Stars, with Shammah Tanze replacing Abubakar Lawal.
The visitors demonstrated bravery all through the game, but lacked finishing in front of goal as Tanze and Ezekiel Thompson were the biggest culprits. Bature Yaro’s long range effort six minutes into the game from a free kick was the only glaring chance on target.
Pillars enjoyed free flow attacking runs from young duo of Nazifi Yahaya and Alassan Ibrahim. Alassan would have grabbed his goal five minutes from the start, but Emeka Nwabulu was alert to deny him. His goal finally came in the 35th minute as he curved into the net directly from corner and subsequently voted man of the match for the first time.
The second half was characterized by counter-attacks, and yielded no further goalscoring afterwards as Pillars stretched their unbeaten streak to five matches. Sai Masu Gida have now moved up to third on the table with 20 points from 11 matches, while Wikki Tourists remain in the relegation zone, having scooped 11 points from possible 33.
But Kano Pillars coach Kadiri Ikhana was unimpressive with the attitude of his players after the match. Ikhana condemned the several antics by his wards, which eventually led to the marching order of Nafiu Kabuga after a second bookable offence.
Three Kano Pillars players Kabuga, Chris Madaki and goalkeeper David Obiazo went down almost the same time, after previous deliberate falls by Rabiu Ali and Nazifi Yahaya. Ikhana stated that it was an act he never imagined or expected from his team.
“You don’t emerge a champion by applying mere tricks that kills the spirit of the gam. It is important to win convincingly and not by means of foul play. I never instructed them to act like that, because I coach football and not simulation,” said Ikhana.
Ikhana however relished the winning mentality in his squad, after making wholesale changes to the team that defeated Enyimba International over the weekend.
Nazifi Yahaha and skipper Gambo Mohammed were the only players who made the startlist, while Jamiu Alimi and Joel Djondang replaced suspended Chinedu Udoji and Emmanuel Anyanwu.
The Kano Pillars coach described the changes as technical input to keep his team safe from fatigue, after a run of three matches in the last 10 days.
“We need to keep the team afloat as to meet up with the demands of being a top contender, especially now that we are third on the log.
“Most of the players you see today are the ones we have not been using, so it is important they have a chance,” Ikhana explained.