It's a typical Saturday afternoon in this ancient city of Kano and the sun is blazing with temperature at 37 degrees Celsius and it seems the shops have shut down for business except for football, at least, for majority of the male folks cutting across all ages. Hotels, pubs and even road side drinking rest places that can afford space for a television with cable subscription. Of course, most are also escaping the heat on the street which have been nicely paved and kept clean by hooded women who withstand the hot air to work with brushes and bins.
But it's not just about the foreign league which they gather in hordes to express 'expert' views on the teams they have affinity for as occasional shouts of Sai Masu Gida, the popular refrain for home side, Kano Pillars are heard from corners. Ordinarily, outsiders have come to think that the early exit of the Glo League defending champions from the CAF Champions League meant a watered down interest in the Club especially in the new season that they began with a 2-2 draw with Sunshine Stars.
Uchenna Iyioke, a Sports Journalist with Freedom FM and known all over the town as Fish provides an insight into the make-up of the typical Kano Pillars fan. "On the day they crashed out of the CAF Champions League on goals deficit, the fans stayed back at the stadium not really lamenting but contented that they were not disgraced out of the competition. They simply believed the CAF Cup was not theirs and have turned their heart to domestic competitions".
Pillars are at home to league new comers FC Taraba on Sunday in the second game of the ancient city's first ever Double Header in the Glo Premier League. El-Kanemi playing in their adopted home at Pillars Stadium in Sabon Gari will open the Double Header with the game against Lobi Stars and Kabiru Yahaya, a forex dealer who was at Tahir Palace Hotel to see some of the afternoon games of the English Premier League says he is optimistic Pillars will retain the Cup.
"I am here because Pillars are not playing today but the good thing is that we are recovering from the slow start to the season. You can see the team has made up for the points shared with Sunshine by the two away draws at Umuahia and Jos. Tomorrow, Taraba will know they are playing one of the best clubs in the country and it is our shouts from the stands that will defeat them", boasted Yahaya.
Usman Yahaya, the State Football Association Secretary confirmed that they are still doing well at the gates and underlined this by explaining that on match days, security has never been relaxed to make sure fans watched games in safety. "We don't joke with security here and it is not from any external pressure as we normally bring in no fewer than 500 men and officers of the Nigeria Police and the Civil Defense".
Unlike most Nigerian cities that are home to the elite league Clubs, in Kano, the fans proudly dorn the yellow and green jerseys of Kano Pillars. Though they had announced a new kitting deal, the former jersey are still being hawked by street traders who take advantage of slow traffic to approach commuters. It is also easy to see that some of the jerseys came from counterfeiters who are cashing in on high patronage.
Bala Gaya, of Tudun Wada argued that Kano is the nation's football capital despite not being home to the Football federation, the League organizers and the big corporate sponsors. "We have often heard claims that Lagos is the sports city but that was some years back. Specifically, there is no city that hugs football especially the Glo League as the Pyramid City. We have the numbers and the passion to make any club successful".