By Adeboye Amosu:
Glo Premier League champions, Kano Pillars maintained their invincibility at the Sani Abacha Stadium on Thursday with a routine 4-1 win against Giwa Pillars.
It was the Sai Masu Gida 196 home matches without a defeat and they are now closing in on making it 12 years since they last tasted defeat at the ground.
The last time the Pyramid City side suffered a loss at home was on June 21 2003 when Julius Berger defeated them 2-1 in a league game.
Since then rivals like, Sunshine Stars, Enyimba, Heartland and co have come close to ending that run but Pillars have always clawed their way back to hold on to the cherished record.
Rabiu Ali is today the most popular player in the Pillars’ line-up and one that has contributed immensely to their success in recent years.
The talented midfielder revealed to Completesportsnigeria.com that the players have an unsual feeling while playing at home which makes them to give their all even in the face of tough competition from the other teams.
“Playing at the Sani Abacha Stadium gives us a psychogically edge,” Ali told Completesportsnigeria.com during an exclusive chat.
“When you go on a run like we have done at home you have this feeling that no team can beat you and also become desperate to keep the record.
“At times, it’s easy when we came up against the smaller teams who never had big match experience and were aware of our record at home.
“Some of them tend to get afraid of facing us but there are others who always feel that they don’t have anything to lose and go all out to ensure they come out with a win.
“But the key is not getting complacent, no matter the opposition, whether big or small.”
Kano Pillars, coached by Okey Emordi are now four games away from getting to the 200 mark unbeaten at Sani Abacha Stadium. But can their next four opponents; Dolphins, El-kanemi Warriors, Wikki Tourists and Lobi Stars do what no club have done in over a decade and end the unbeaten streak of the champions at home?
Sunshine Stars’ striker Dele Olorundare and his teammates came close to securing a famous win at the ground last season, but were pegged back by a late Gambo Mohammed strike for the hosts.
The well built goal getter who scored a brace for the Akure Gunners in that encounter, shared his experience with Completesportsnigeria.com.
“Sani Abacha Stadium is one ground you go to and must be at your best to come out with a positive result.
“The fans there love football and are always out to support their team and make the atmosphere intimidating for the opposing team.
“We came close to ending their unbeaten streak at home last season, but they rallied back to forced us to a 2-2 draw.
“I believe they have achieved the feat on merit and I want to give kudos to them for making that stadium a ‘slaughter slab.”
Olorundare’s view was corroborated by Dolphins skipper Austine Festus, who also gave a firsthand experience of the psychological edge the Pyramid City team have over their rivals at the revered Sani Abacha Stadium.
“I remember the first time I arrived Kano with Dolphins for a game against them and someone hinted me on the challenges ahead, but I was not perturbed about what he said.
“I was just a rookie then coming from Bendel Insurance, but the experience I garnered that day have made me the player I’m today.
“They seem to have the believe that no team can beat them at home, and the record too strikes fears into their opponents.”
Festus’ coach at Dolphins, Stanley Eguma revealed to Completesportsnigeria.com how he has had to prepare his side mentally for the task of facing the league champions in Kano.
“You need to be courageous and well prepared when you come up against Pillars in Kano,” he reckoned.
“Your players are aware they are tough to beat at home and as the leader of the team, you must instil confidence in them or else you will leave there with a heavy defeat.”
3SC gaffer, Gbenga Ogunbote attributed Pillars’ impressive home form to luck and hardwork from the players and the coaching staff.
“They (Pillars) are a quality side and you don’t play 196 matches at home without a defeat when you are not dedicated to the task,” Ogunbote told Completesportsnigeria.com
“But luck is also key because you can play well for 90 minutes and end up conceding a goal.”