Katsina Utd, Kano Pillars play out 2-2 draw in opener

By George Akpayen

Destiny Ashadi’s goal from 12 yards in stoppage time ensured Katsina United earned a 2-2 draw against Kano Pillars in the opening game of this season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on Saturday.

Junior Lokosa and Alassan Ibrahim scored for four-time champions Kano Pillars while Chinedu Ajanah got Katsina United’s first goal.

Kano Pillars head coach Ibrahim Musa handed new signing Nzube Anaezemba a starting place while striker Gambo Muhammed was not listed in the matchday squad as Nyima Nwagua and Lokosa were preferred as the attackers.

Ebenezer Odeyemi and Muhammed Hussaini also made their debuts for Katsina United with Abdullahi Biffo taking charge of his first league game since joining in the off-season.

Just past 60 seconds into the game, Katsina United goalkeeper Dami Paul did exceptionally well to palm out to safety Lokosa’s fine attempt on target.

The former Nigerian champions did not let up and pegged the home team in their half with quick passing as Alassan, Anaezemba, Lokosa, Nwagua and Kamal Sikiru were all involved earlier on.

Twelve minutes to the break, Lokosa scored for Pillars. It was the first goal of the NPFL season and it was deserving too for the former champions.

Pillars then had a man sent off. Victor Dennis who provided the assist for Lokosa’s goal saw red for a challenge on Eric Gwammy which referee Sani Mohammed deemed dangerous with two minutes to the break.

In added time of first half Ajanah headed in the equalizer to level score at 1-1 for Katsina United from Ashadi’s inch perfect free kick.

Alassan restored Pillars’ lead 16 minutes into the restart despite being a man down. The midfielder fired in a screamer past Paul to put the Kano club back in the driving seat.

Katsina United were awarded a spot kick on 80 minutes and Hussaini’s kick was saved by goalkeeper David Obiazo.

Pillars did enough to hold on to their lead but conceded a spot kick when the referee ruled that Fahad Usman handled the ball in his box.

But Obiazo could not stop Ashadi from converting from the spot to level matters in the last seconds of stoppage time.

Matchday 1 of the NPFL will be rounded off on Sunday with nine games on offer.