Several Kano Pillars players have been expressing their views ahead of their Confederation Cup preliminary round second leg tie against ASC Jaraaf on Saturday.
The Senegalese side hold a 3-1 lead from the first leg where goals from Zaky Bassene, Samba Dialo and Lubasse Gulye cancelled out David Ebuka’s early strike to hand them victory over the Nigerian debutants at the Stade Lat Dior last week.
As Pillars prepare to take on Jaraaf at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in the return leg, Ebuka who scored Sai Masu Gida’s only goal in Senegal says he’s particularly confident of adding to his tally against Jaraaf and insists a club of Pillars’ stature must always aspire to deep runs on the continent.
With the memory of last season’s loss to Asante Kotoko in the preliminary round of the Champions League still fresh in the memory, Ebuka is adamant the players have resolved to avoid a similar outcome later today.
“I expect more than that [to score again]. That was my first game in continental, and this will be the second one. I believe that every game we play, we need to at least, extend to a certain stage. So, I believe the second game we’re about to play, I will give nor just myself, but the Kano State more hope,” he said.
“I know we’ve been in this situation last season and we didn’t end up in the right position. People expect much from us, i believe in this second stage we will end up in that position which Nigeria will be proud of us.”
Since their Cinderella run to the semifinals of the Champions League in their debut season, Pillars have struggled on the continent, never progressing beyond the first round in five subsequent appearances.
Striker Nwagua Nyima says the players “really want to win and break this jinx of not making it for a while now”
Having had a week to stew over the first leg defeat, Nyima who predicted a big win and promised to score, says the team is raring to make amends in what he describes as a must win match for Pillars.
“We’re well prepared and it’s not been long we got back from Senegal. Our mind and every part of our body is actually waiting for the second leg, because we have nothing but to deliver in the second leg, and we’re really anxious, and we’re really ready for the game because it’s a must win game tomorrow, and we really want to win and break this jinx of not making it for a while now.
“You guys should expect goals from me, because I’m very positive with this very one. I know we’re going to score and all our players are going to be in a very good shape and they’re going to be very ready.
“We’re very ready, mentally and physically, and we’re really out for victory. Not just a victory but we want to advance for the next level.”
With the game set to be played behind closed doors at the team’s temporary home ground of Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kenneth Amia insists the absence of Pillars’ famously passionate following won’t take away from the atmosphere or weaken the team’s resolve to get the win that seals their progress.
“I don’t think without the fans the game is going to be boring, because we believe even though the fans won’t be there presently, they will be with us in prayers, and that is the most important thing. So being with us in prayers, I think the fans are there with us, and by the special grace of God we’re going to have the victory.
“2-0 is what is going to make us to qualify to another stage but I believe by the special grace of God we have something more than that.
While fans won’t be present at the stadium, Pillars’ Ghanaian goalkeeper Idris Ibrahim says they can still support the team through other means.
“Well the only thing they can do for us is to pray for us, and with the hard work we put in this week, I know Insh’Allah everything is going to be okay for us and we’re going far Insh’Allah,” he said.
Kano Pillars vs ASC Jaraaf kicks off by 4pm at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium.