Prior to every match day, fans and analysts predict the starting line up of football teams. They do so out of experience, repetition or expectation. For example, it is easy to predict that the club’s number one goal keeper will be in goal for a crucial home game.

In the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), it is not that easy. There are teams that have dressed up to 50 players this 2019/20 season while others run a “tight” ship with about 35 players. On the average, each club have had 40 players on the matchday 18-man list this season in the NPFL.

Kano Pillars starting XI vs Wikki Tourists in March 2020 (Photo: LMC Media)

Some coaches divide their teams into two, in a bid to overcome the challenges of travelling via road in Nigeria. A player that features home today is likely not going to feature away in the next match. But there are exceptions – the very important and fit players.

In Kano, there are two players that can be likened to Pillars for the local side, in terms of appearance. Kano Pillars is the biggest club in the North and Rabiu Ali, the club captain is an NPFL legend. When he was not in the side at the beginning of the season, the Masu Gida were hovering over relegation.

With 24 league matches played this season, Auwalu Ali and Nyima Nwagua are the only players that have started every game for the Kano based side.

Nyima Nwagua goes one step further by being the only Kano Pillars to start every match this season, including the CAF Champions League. 26/26 for the 27 year old forward. The ever-present forward has 4 goals and an assist to his name in the 2019/20 NPFL.

Auwalu Ali is arguably Kano Pillars’ player of the 2019/20 season. With 11 goals and 3 assists, Auwalu’s 24 starts indicates how important he is to the team. He recently won a Twitter poll about the best player in the NPFL player this season.

Other worthy mentions in Kano Pillars team is Captain Rabiu Ali with 20 consecutive starts since he was pardoned by the LMC. He only missed the first 4 matches of the season but has scored 3 goals and provided 6 assists. Abdullahi Musa is another with 23 starts in Pillars’ 24 matches this season.

Rabiu Ali watches as Nyima Nwagua fights for the ball against Wikki Tourists

If you are going to predict the line-up for a Kano Pillars game this season, these four players should be in your starting eleven. They have scored 16, and combine to produce 20 of the 27 goals recorded by Pillars in the league this season. Put your money on them to be in the line-up the next time Kano Pillars feature in a football game.

Photo-credit: LMC Media. Stat-credit: OptaNGR