By Isma’eel Abba Tangalashi
The Sani Abacha Stadium on Sunday witnessed yet another groundbreaking football as home side, Kano Pillars were forced to a 0-0 stalemate by visiting Rivers Utd in the opening fixture of the Nigeria Professional Football League 2019/2020 season.
The Sai Masu Gida started the game on a high intensity forcing the Stanley Eguma’s side to defend for the larger part of the first half.
Nwagua Nyima got the first real chance of the game on the 6th minute as he fired his shot wide off target.
Auwalu Ali missed another scoring opportunity for the home side in the 36th minute after he was set one on one with the goalkeeper but the striker’s attempt was well off target.
Pillars woes in front of goal continued when Nyima misses what seems to be an open net just before half time. The goalkeeper was well beaten and the ball met Nyima who is at the edge of the goal post but directs his shot over the bar.
The first 45 minute ended with both side failing to score a goal that could have ended up being the winner.
After the resumption of play, Rivers Utd begin to find their rhythm and were able to create some few chances of their own but the defensive line of Pillars that comprises of Musa Abdullahi, Sunday Chinedu, Christopher Madaki and former Rivers Utd right back, Ifeanyi Nweke proved too good for the forward line of the Port Harcourt based side.
The introduction of Yusuf Bala Maigoro brought some stability upfront and was quick to make an impact when he set Adamu Hassan through down the left flank and subsequently passed the ball back to Maigoro from just inside the box and fired in shot direct to Rivers Utd goalkeeper, Akande Abiodun.
The Aiteo cup champions continued to pressed more high up the pitch but couldn’t beat the reliable Rivers Utd goalie, Akande Abiodun as the trio of Adamu Hassan, Auwalu Ali and Nwagua Nyima misses series of chances for the Sai Masu Gida.
In an interview with www.kano-pillars.com after the match, Kano Pillars Technical adviser, Ibrahim Musa has described the performance of his players as superb and promised to work on his team’s forward line ahead of the next game on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Rivers Utd Manager, Stanley Eguma has described the performance of both sides as top notch and has said that both Pillars and Rivers Utd can compete for the trophy at the end of the season if they can continue playing as they did on Sunday.
Pillars Starting XI:
1. Surajo Ayeleso 23
2. Ifeanyi Nweke 2
3. Chris Madaki 11
4. Jamil Muhammad 5. Jamil 15
6. Sunday Chinedu 26
7. Abdullahi Musa 5
8. Auwalu Ali 17
9. Dosso Sa’id 33
10. Silas Bright 18
11. Nwagua Nyima 28
Chijioke Alaekwe 22
Rivers Utd Starting XI:
1. Akande Abiodun
13. Lookman Binuyo
3. Konan Rufin Ngouan
16. Oshobe Shuji
32. Kunle Odunlami
19. Festus Austin
18. Michael Enaruna
25. Malachi Ohawume
8. Ossy Martins
21. Cletus Emotan
15. Bamba Bakary
Pillars defender, Abdullahi Musa scooped the man of the match award voted by the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN present at the stadium.
After the completion of the Match Day one, the Sai Masu Gida are 11th on the log with just a point will on Wednesday face newly promoted Akwa Starlets while Rivers Utd will play host to Heartland on the same date as Pillars.