Kano Pillars opened their 2019/2020 CAF Champions League campaign with a narrow 3-2 victory over Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko in the first leg of the preliminary stage at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano on Saturday.
The two sides – both champions and heavyweights in their home countries – started the much-anticipated fixture started the first half with a certain measure of shrewdness, but it was the home side that broke the deadlock in the 11th minute through a Rahaqqu Yusuf strike. A lead they took in the break.
Asante Kotoko, however, showed they were not on a tour of the ancient city of Kano with an equalizer from midfielder, Justice Blay, in the 55th minute. Without letup, Godfred Asiamah found the back of the net to doubled the visitors’ lead in the 67th minute.
Sai Masu Gida, who did not want to disappoint the home fans, rallied into the game through skipper Rabiu Ali’s equalizer three minutes later.
With the game looking like it will end in a draw, Christopher Madaki came to the rescue of the 2019 Aiteo Cup Champions with his goal which sealed the victory for the Kano based side.
Meanwhile, in Ouagadougou, 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League champions fell to a 1-0 loss to Rahimo FC.
The hosts put up a strong fight against the visitors from Nigeria starting with a miss after Ifeanyi Anaemena fumbled with the ball early in the 8th minute.
Without relenting, the match turned to a gripping encounter – something Enyimba might have not envisaged – with both teams playing it all out on the pitch.
However, all came to a standstill for Enyimba when striker Issouf Zonon, who had been a menace to the Peoples’ Elephant’s defense, put the ball past Theophilus Afelokhai giving the hosts the lead at the half-hour mark.
The two-time Champions League winners, not giving up on the chance to return to Aba without a point, remained relentless against Rahimo.
Tactical changes from Usman Abd’Allah, which proved effective only in the field of play, failed to produce the provide the desired result.
As Enyimba return home to begin preparations to overturn the loss at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba in two weeks, Premier Soccer League giants, Orlando Pirates will want to do the same after their 1-0 loss to Zambian Premier League side Green Eagles when they play the return leg on Friday, August 23.