Kano Pillars coach Ibrahim Musa would rather have the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi as Pillars’ base for their home games in the CAF Confederation Cup than the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna because the former’s artificial turf is more likely to bring out the “best of Pillars”.
Pillars will play in the competition next season after they were put forward as one of Nigeria’s two representatives after the 2019-20 Nigeria Professional Football League season was ended prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But Sai Masu Gida will be unable to host matches at their traditional home ground, the Sani Abacha Stadium, which has been temporarily repurposed as a Covid-19 isolation centre.
The club’s management is currently evaluating the suitability of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi and the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna as alternative home grounds for Pillars’ continental campaign and club chairman Surajo Shuaibu Yahaya recently secured the approval of sports ministry officials in Kaduna for Pillars to play at the Ahmadu Bello.
But despite leading the Sai Masu Gida to their only AITEO Cup title at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium last year, Musa says the stadium’s unfamiliar natural grass playing surface might not be best suited to his team’s playing style which is more suited to the artificial turf at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium.
Besides the dissimilarity between its playing surface – which can be patchy and undulating if not well maintained – and the artificial turf at Pillars’ Sani Abacha home ground, Musa also questioned the Ahmadu Bello’s suitability to stage games in heavy downpour should Pillars’ matches fall in the rainy season.
Musa highlighted his players’ struggles at certain grounds with natural grass pitches in the NPFL as proof that playing in Kaduna might not bode well for them.
The Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, however, would be a much better fit for his players who should take seamlessly to its artificial playing turf which is much like Pillars’ at their Sani Abacha home, Musa said.
“I’ll only advise [the Kano State government and the club chairman], I prefer Bauchi because our ground is like Bauchi, so the Kaduna training pitch is natural grass, we’re not used to the natural grass,” Musa told busybuddiesng.com.
“You can’t see the best of Pillars if we go to a pitch that is not good. But I don’t think Kaduna will be good during rainy season [but] if we are playing our CAF champions league in the dry season, we may get the best of it but a bad pitch, we can’t see the best of Pillars.
“If we were training normally [on a surface] like the Ahmadu Bello pitch, we can’t have problem, but our ground [at] the Sani Abacha is artificial ground and Bauchi is artificial ground, so, we are used to that.
“So, anywhere we go, if you have bad pitch you can’t see the best of Pillars. That’s why when go to [grounds] like Ifeanyiubah, Abia Warriors the pitch is natural grass so it’s not good [and] we [can’t] be at our best. We are just managing.”