The often hotly-contested Northwest derby between home team Katsina United and Kano Pillars will today open the new Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.
‘The Chanji Boys’, who ended last season on 16th position with 52 points under the tutelage of coach Baldwin Bazuaye, will be looking forward to a better opening match of the season in front of their fans under new coach Abdullahi Usman Biffo.
Biffo, who was with Abia Warriors last season, will now be the man in the Katsina United dug-out this season after he signed a two-year deal with the Katsina team during the off-season.
Biffo said his team are prepared for this derby.
“We are on course and we have left no stone upturned in the pre-season, so we are ready for the task ahead in the new season,” a confident Biffo said.
“Yes, we are playing Pillars in the opening match of the season and the game is not going to be different from any other game because they will all attract three points each.
“Therefore, we will approach the game the way we are going to approach all our home games.
“We are very much aware of the threat they are going to pose and we are as well not push-overs as we have proved to all football lovers in the country that we are a team to beat during our pre-season tour.”
‘The Chanji Boys’ won 2 – 1 against Gombe United in the opening match of last season under coach Bala Nikyu.
Katsina United were busy on the transfer market and have recruited 11 new players who will add value to them.
Pillars, on the other hand, ended last season a disappointing eighth on the table with 54 points and have also done well on the transfer market.
Both teams will miss the services of some their key players who are on national duty with home-based Eagles in Morocco for CHAN 2018, which will also kick off today.
As a result, Katsina United will be without defence marshall Timothy Danladi, while Kano Pillars will miss three key players – Ifeanyi Nweke, Stephen Eze and one of the NPFL most experienced stars Rabiu Ali.
Both teams met last season in the NPFL and the result of the first leg went in favour of Kano Pillars 1 – 0 at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano. Chinedu Udoji gave the hosts a vital victory via a textbook header. And the return leg went in favour of the ‘The Chanji Boys’ 1 – 0 with a powerful header from Martins Usule at the Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina.
Players to Watch
Katsina United – Tasiu Lawal
Kano Pillars – Junior Lakosa
Venue – Muhammadu Dikko Stadium in Katsina
Capacity – 35,000
Date – Saturday, 13th January, 2018.
Time – 4pm
By Wale Oyekanmi