Packed to the rafters with fans, and under spectacular conditions, the Nigeria Professional Football League had a unique feel on Sunday as Kano Pillars and Enugu Rangers took center-stage at the Sani Abacha Stadium in what was the Star game for the opening weekend of the 2015/16 season.
With well over 20,000 fans present in the stands and cheering their team on, Sunday’s game in Kano could easily have passed for a game in the BPL or the Bundesliga. But it was not.
On a day that a heavyweight contest was going on in London where Chelsea and Manchester City were slugging it out for a place in the quarter finals of the FA Cup, many had thought that will take its toll on attendance but interestingly, the reverse was the case.
It was indeed a testimony that Kano football fans are one if not the most passionate set of fans in Nigeria as they thronged the Sani Abacha Stadium in their thousands to show support for their darling team in the season-opener against Enugu Rangers.
While commending the large turnout, Aminu Sanni a football journalist who was at the Sani Abacha stadium on Sunday submitted that the Local League is gradually warming itself into the hearts of Nigerians with such crowd on the opening weekend of action in the NPFL.
“The fans in Kano are very passionate about their team and that is what they showed the whole world on Sunday, they are not bothered if Chelsea is playing or whether it is Manchester City, except there is a curfew I don’t see what will stop these fans from coming to support their team” Aminu enthused.
In his own submission, Spokesperson for Pillars, Idris Malikawa said the wave of optimism among Kano fans also contributed a great deal to the numbers at the stadium; adding that the trend will surely continue going in to the
“We are proud of the number fans at the stadium on Sunday, the fans are impressed with the changes that have so far been effected at the club and they have vowed to contribute their quota by coming to watch our games week-in-week-out.” Malikawa said
While the stadium attendance figure obtained by Fcnaija.com is well over 20,000, it was reliably gathered that a large chunk of fans could not even find their way into the venue.
Interestingly, Sunday’s game was initially not going according to the script as it was the visitors, Rangers that drew the first blood and they were close to killing the game in the 73rd minute but the Flying Antelopes fluffed the opportunity.
Pillars turned the tables from then; first equalising through Gambo Mohammed and sealing a win very late with the strike by new signing; Prince Aggreh.
While the crowd at Kano indeed were good advert for the League, it is yet to be seen if traditional teams like Shooting Stars, Enyimba and even Rangers will be able to attract fans to the stadium when they play their respective games.