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Nigerian Football

Kano Pillars on  the verge of relegation again?

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BY NURA GARBA SABONSARA

As the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) 2023/2024 season enters the home stretch, Kano Pillars find themselves in a precarious situation, despite being in the 8th on the league table.

They have 41 points in a close-packed league in which no situation below the top eight can be regarded as safe now.

On the surface, the eighth position occupied by Kano Pillars might seem a decent position, but beneath lies a series of crises that is threatening the club’s stability.

Kano Pillars, a team deeply entrenched in the hearts of the people of Kano, holds a unique status in Nigerian football. Yet, recent events have cast doubts on their future in the league.

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Despite a promising start to the season where they occupied the third position, the team has encountered a harsh reality check.

For the first time in its history since establishment in 1990, Kano Pillars faced back-to-back home losses in a single season, a stunning defeat against Abia Warriors followed by a recent upset against Shooting Stars of Ibadan on Monday, 8th April, 2024.

These losses, coupled with a humiliating 5-0 defeat by Enyimba, paint a troubling picture.

While some attribute these setbacks to the challenges of Ramadan fasting affecting the players, others argue that this explanation falls short because the team has been playing in this situation for many years.

Why now?. The root of Pillars’ problems lies deeper, starting from the inability to secure key signings and a lack of strong financial backing.

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Recruitment primarily from local talent pools received mixed reactions.

While some praised the emphasis on nurturing grassroots talent, others feared the consequences of inexperience, a concern that seems to be materializing now.

Moreover, the team’s financial woes, compounded by fines imposed due to fan misconduct, further exacerbate the situation.

Similarly, some close government allies and individuals are forcing the technical crew to recruit their players irrespective of whether they are competent or not, a development that has angered many fans of the club.

Many players seem motivated solely by personal career advancement rather than team success, raising questions about commitment and morale.

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Additionally, scheduling matches during Ramadan, though a long standing practice, has never before yielded such dismal results.

With relegation looming just eight points away, urgent action is imperative.

The government, alongside club officials, must step in decisively to address these issues. Ignoring the plight of Kano Pillars risks tarnishing the state’s football legacy irreparably.

In conclusion, Kano Pillars stand at a critical juncture. Without swift intervention and a concerted effort to rectify underlying problems, the club faces the grim prospect of relegation once again.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Sikiru Alimi is Nigeria’s leading scorer as NPFL’24 strikers net 708 goals in 330 Games

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Sikiru Alimi hits Nigeria Premier League milestone of 50 goals -

Data released by the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) Competitions Unit indicate an average of +2 goals per match after Matchday 33 as a total of 708 goals were recorded in the 330 games so far played by the 20 clubs.

The data has Remo Stars Sikiru Alimi as the leading scorer with 14 goals and Rangers International as the team with the best attack with 49 goals. Bendel Insurance are listed as the side with the least conceded goals having let in 25 in 33 games while Gombe United have conceded the most goals at 61.

A total of 1268 yellow cards have been issued with 43 players sent off.

A further analysis of the records show that teams have won 251 games at home with 25 winning away from home and 79 fixtures ending in a draw. In the home wins, 512 goals were scored while teams have scored 196 goals on the road. Of these, there were 13 own goals.

The season has recorded a total of 85 penalties awarded with 65 successfully converted and 20 missed.

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THE STATS

Total No. of Matches Played: 330

Total No. of Wins: 251

Total No. of Home wins: 226

Total No. of Away Wins: 25

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Total No. of Draws: 79

Total No. of Goals Scored: 708

Average Goals/Match: 2

Total No. of Home Goals: 512

Total No. of Away Goals:196

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Total No.of Penalty Awarded: 85 

Total No. of Penalties Scored: 65

Total No. of Penalties Missed: 20

Total No. of Own Goals: 13

Highest Goal Scorer: Sikiru Alimi of Remo Stars;14 goals.

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Total No. of Yellow Cards:1268

Total No. of  Red Cards: 43 

Top of the Log: Enugu Rangers: 60pts, 49 goals for, 31 against 

Best Attacking Team: Enugu Rangers: 49 goals.

Best Defensive Team: Bendel Insurance 25 goals conceded.

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Worst Defense:Gombe United with 61 goals against.

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Nigerian Football

We are not owing bonuses and allowances, says NFF

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The Nigeria Football Federation has released a refutal that players and officials of the national team are being owed of the money released to the team before the last Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.

 The NFF issued a press release that the Presidency had, late last year, and following a process supported and personally followed-through by the Minister of Sports John Owan Enoh, released monies to the NFF for payment of outstanding bonuses and allowances of players and officials of the various national teams.

The NFF in its released reported that there was a publication on Monday which a senior administrative official of the Super Eagles described as “tissues of lies” and challenged the writer to come forward with evidence of his claims.

“The report is absolutely false, in every ramification, and we challenge the owner of the website and writer to come forward with proof of the claims. We want him to name the players who spoke to him, because these are all tissues of lies.

“Players and officials of the Super Eagles have been paid for all matches played at the AFCON, yet he claimed the team was paid for only three matches. His outlandish claim of the team being owed for 25 matches is the biggest lie ever concocted by any writer.”

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The writer also falsely claimed that only members of the NFF Board and staff of the Secretariat have been paid their outstanding allowances from the government money.

“This story is a shame. No player of the Super Eagles spoke to the writer. It is all pure fabrication,” a senior player told thenff.com.

Another senior official of the Super Eagles added: “The story is absolute bunkum. People should make an effort to verify whatever they hear from anywhere before going to the press. It is clear that this writer did not even hear anything; he simply brought forth something from his own imagination.”   

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Nigerian Football

Enugu Rangers hold on grimly at the top as Nigerian league gets to home stretch

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Enugu Rangers may have broken loose from the pack following their comprehensive  3-0 victory over Bayelsa United on Sunday.

As if to aid Rangers’ hold of the top position, their closest rivals, Remo Stars who were initially just a point behind fell like  papers blown by the huricane, losing 3-2 to Kwara United. Their loss dealt a big blow on their title aspirations as they are now four points behind Enugu Rangers and had also narrowed their goal difference.

They are now third having been overtaken by Enyimba who have better goal difference even though both are with 56 points.

Shooting Stars who suddenly peaked in the second half of the season are fast pacing up, getting to the fourth position and three points behind Remo Stars.

They were dealt a blow in the added time as Katsina United’s Michael Okoro got an added time goal against to stalemate scores at 2-2.

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Just as Enugu Rangers are at the cusp of the championship, the fates of Gombe United and Heartland appear already decided as the second tier Nigeria National League are already waiting to welcome them next season.

Akwa United may have navigated their ways out of relegation waters following their 2-1 away win over Lobi Stars. Akwa United are now 15th on the log. In Jos, former champions, Plateau and Niger Tornadoes played uninspiring goalless while relegation-troubled Heartland of Owerri spanked Gombe United 3-0 just as Kano Pillars dimmed Doma United 3-1.

All the results:

Sunshine Stars 0-0 Bendel Insurance

Rivers United 4-1 Sporting Lagos

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Lobi Stars 1-2 Akwa United

Kwara United 3-2 Remo Stars

Katsina United 2-2 Shooting Stars

Kano Pillars 3-1 Doma United

Heartland 3-0 Gombe United

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Enugu Rangers 3-0 Bayelsa United

Abia Warriors 0-1 Enyimba

Plateau United 0-0 Niger Tornadoes

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