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Kano Pillars wobbling under multiple challenges

These are definitely not the best of times for Kano Pillars as the former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions are gasping for breath following…

These are definitely not the best of times for Kano Pillars as the former Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions are gasping for breath following strings of poor results recorded recently in the ongoing season.

Pillars’ sharp decline has come as a surprise to many because after overcoming initial setbacks under Coach Abdul Maikaba who joined at the start of the season from Enugu Rangers, they hit good form to join the rank of title contenders.

It will be recalled that two matches into the second stanza, a convincing 5-1 thrashing of Sunshine Stars in matchday 21 by Kano Pillars FC crowned a six game straight unbeaten run taking the ‘Masu Gida’ boys to 3rd position on the log with 36 points.

However, Pillars continental hopes began to disappear into thin air as they started to drop points even at their fortress the Sani Abacha Stadium Kofar-Mata. For the teeming fans of one of the most motivated clubs in the NPFL, winning just one out of the last eight matches including two home defeats is not only disappointing but embarrassing.

While some die-hard supporters of Kano Pillars have attributed the underwhelming performance over the last five matches to fasting, a broader view indicates that the eventual collapse of Pillars began three matches prior to Ramadan when a dip in form occurred resulting into the first home loss of the season to Abia Warriors. 

Further research shows that Pillars have shown vulnerability in the second half of their matches. It has been discovered that 70% of goals conceded were scored after the break. Most fans have traced this to poor game strategy, faulty tactical adjustments or lack of mental resilience during the latter stages of matches.

For Sports analyst, Wasilu Kawo, the blame for the current decline in the on-field performance of Kano Pillars should be laid on the technical ineptitude of the coaching crew led by Maikaba.

“Pillars conceded 36 goals this season out of which 22 goals were conceded in the second half. Nine goals were actually conceded between the 84th minute and full-time. Numbers don’t lie. It is clear that this could point towards problems with player fitness, yes. It cannot only be about fasting. They are professionals. Whatever is the case, the coaches have work to do,” he said.

Apart from technical deficiency as cited by Kawo, some people have attributed Pillars’ poor performance to lack of adequate motivation of the players and officials of the club who are said to be owed so many match bonuses.

But amidst allegations of mismanagement of funds and unpaid allowances, Pillars are said to be one of the best sponsored clubs in the NPFL. Therefore, many fans of the club are surprised that the players are still owed match bonuses.

However, some fans of Pillars are of the opinion that match bonuses owed to the players is not enough reason for them to put up such shambolic performances.

Most of the fans who spoke to Trust Sports said since the players are receiving their salaries as and when due, they have no reason to make anyone feel their lacklustre outings are caused by the club’s indebtedness to them.

It will also be recalled that Kano Pillars are among the clubs in the NPFL that have enrolled their players into their state civil service for the purpose of prompt payment of salaries. Consequently, they are paid along with all civil servants in the state.

Speaking to Trust Sports, Ahmed Musa opined that “We can’t be talking about match bonuses being the reason for bad performance because there is money in Pillars. The players always get their salary. Bonuses are just extra privileges”. 

Shehu Ibraheem said “It will be uncharitable for the players to say they are playing poorly because they are not paid their match bonuses. Are their match allowances more than the salaries they are paid regularly?” 

Meanwhile, apart from allocation from the state government which runs into millions of naira, the club recently secured a sponsorship deal worth an estimated N30 million from a group of privately owned companies in the state. In addition, it is said Pillars management have landed another sponsorship deal with a soft drink company.

However, Pillars silent struggles with financial hiccups became public knowledge when they nearly failed to honour their week 28 clash with the reigning champions Enyimba FC in Aba. Even though they eventually travelled for the match, they arrived at the venue a few hours to kick off and were hammered 5-0 by the former African champions.

In view of the 2-1 home defeat to perennial rivals, 3SC of Ibadan, which came immediately after the scandalous loss in Aba, a sports pundit, Nura Garba Sabonsara, believes that with Pillars just a few points away from the relegation zone, there is an urgent need for the government to address the lingering problems.

“The government, alongside club officials, must step in decisively to address these issues. Ignoring the issues that are threatening Kano Pillars’ season will cause the state serious embarrassment, if the club is eventually relegated. It will tarnish Kano state’s football legacy irreparably.

“Pillars are in a precarious situation. Without swift intervention and a concerted effort to rectify underlying problems, the club faces the grim prospect of relegation once again,” said Sabonsara.

Trust Sports report that the teeming fans of Kano Pillars have been reeling in serious discomfort following the failure of their darling club to win another title. Pillars last domestic title came in 2014 when they won three titles in a row.

Founded in 1990 from the combination of WRECA Rovers, Kano Golden Stars and Bank of the North, Pillars won their first league title in the 2007/2008 season.

Therefore, as hopes for a fifth title are fast fading, the thoroughly starved fans of the biggest football club in the North are calling on the management to salvage the situation or be shown the exit door by the state government.  

Concerted efforts to get the Chairman of the club, Babangida ‘Little’, for his reaction proved abortive as he neither picked calls nor responded to our reporters’ text messages.

In the same vein, it wasn’t possible to get the Permanent Secretary, Kano Ministry of Sports for his comments.

However, the Media Officer of the club, Shariff Zahraddeen Kofar Nasarawa said “We are hoping to achieve positive results in the season.”

He also called on the state government to accord more support and cooperation to Kano Pillars for better results.

Meanwhile, as the embattled Pillars go into tomorrow’s Matchday 30 fixture away to Bendel Insurance, the ‘Sai masu gida’ boys are presently eighth on the log and a loss against the ‘Benin Arsenal’ could see them plummet to the bottom part of the table with only eight matches left to play.

The odds may be heavily against them but the week 30 match offers Pillars an opportunity to begin their resurgence. However, based on their recent form, there is no guarantee that the ‘Masu gida’ boys will get a decent result at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Sunday.

 

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