Alassan earns point for Kano Pillars at Wikki
By Wale Mustapha
Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) top scorer Junior Lokosa failed to score but Kano Pillars forced Wikki Tourists of Bauchi to a 1-1 draw in a Matchday 16 encounter played at the New Jos Stadium on Sunday.
Nafiu Bala Kabuga converted a 22nd minute penalty against his former side after another former Pillars’ full-back Bala Zakka was tripped in the box.
Ibrahim Alassan equalized for ‘Sai Masu Gida’ seven minutes later as he arrived on time to latch on to Chris Madaki’s cross before putting the ball in the net.
Pillars could have got in front in the 36th minute when Sikiru Kamal’s pass pierced through Wikki’s defence to find Lokosa but Abdullahi Musa slide to deny the forward any chance to shoot.
Both sides could not create any clear chances further as the first half ended with much of actions coming in the midfield.
Wikki came alive with positive ambition on resumption and attacked in numbers in the 48 minutes. After much of weaving of passes, Victor Alegbe’s looping cross found Shammah Tanze but the forward’s header was too weak to beat Pillars keeper, David Obiazo.
It was Tanze again with another chance to restore Wikki’s lead in the 54th minute with a forceful header, this time, Obiazo dived well to stop his effort before rescuing matters for Pillars on the second catch.
Pillars resumed with their own series of attacks after surviving Wikki’s early onslaughts.
Auwalu Ali came in for Kamal in the 62nd minute and the Pillars’ midfielder was a quick impact as he combined well with Jamil Mohammed Jamil to create a scoring chance for his side but he shot off target from edge of the box.
Alegbe took advantage of the space in front of him in the 66th minute as Tanze took out two markers before passing to Alegbe whose shot from edge of the box sailed through the side of the net.
Alassan almost put Pillars in front in the 77th minute as he dribbled past Peter Ambrose and passed to Nyima Nwagua, the forward returned the pass to him but his curling shot rolled out of touch with Wikki defence in sixes and sevens.
Wikki pushed for the winning goal in the last five minutes of the match, but the calmness of Pillars’ defence marshalled by Emmanuel Anyanwu with Obiazo heroics in aerial challenges stood their ground to thwart everything threw at them.
Kano Pillars head coach, Ibrahim Musa told npfl.ng that he is satisfied with the result adding that picking a point from a strong side like Wikki showed his side are physically matured.
He added that the point and performance would give Pillars confidence to withstand subsequent challenges on the road.
“It was a tough match as you can see and we are happy with a point we were able to pick here, Wikki is tough and strong side and for us to hold them till the end even when they were pumping everything as us showed we are meeting up with our mentality to play away games.
“I’m not sure if we played as expected but I think the performance of the boys today will give the team confidence to take on more games at away,” Musa said.
Kano Pillars will take the confidence back home and hope to build on it in their next fixture against Akwa United in Kano while Wikki will play their next game away to Sunshine Stars in Akure.
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