Bashir Maazu Jide, chairman of Kano Pillars Supporters Club, has said the March 5 robbery attack which left five of their players injured was the major reason why the club suffered a first round exit from this year’s CAF Champions League.
Pillars crashed out of the elite continental club competition for the third straight year failing to reach the group phase as last Saturday’s 2-1 home win at the Sani Abacha Stadium was not enough to put them through after a 5-2 aggregate defeat to Morocco’s Moghreb Tetouan.
Earlier, the ousted Nigerian representatives were attacked by armed robbers in Abaji along Abuja-Lokoja road which left five first team starters injured, striker Gambo Muhammed, Eneji Otekpa, Adamu Murtala while Reuben Ogbonnaya and Ubong Moses Ekpai were forced back into the fray.
Jide who exonerated the players and officials of any blame in their disappointing continental crash, cited the overwhelming shock to some players from the robbery attack as a huge setback despite several efforts to boost their mental strength.
“As far I’m concerned, I’m fully satisfied with the performance of the players because they played very well and the supporters also gave their support,” Maazu told Goal.
“The key reason we crashed was the robbery attack, even some of the players are still jittery despite not being injured. Some who witnessed the incident are still in shock.
“We had to invite psychologists from the University of Bayero and the national team to talk to the players so as to psyche them up for the game.
“Unfortunately at the end, we could not get the goals we needed.
“We thank our teeming supporters for having confidence in the team and co-operating with the management for playing the match without having any problem.
“Since we were attacked by armed robbers, we lost our best players. If you see how our team played today. We don’t have central attacker and we had to convert some of our players in that position. We expect the club to go back to reorganise and correct their mistakes. Tomorrow is another day,” he said.
Jide, who admitted being part of the team’s recruitment exercise, explained that the management made quality signings to beef up the team but blamed injuries and transfer fallout for their limited attacking options.
He praised their hard fought home victory without key players and believes Sai Masu Gida have all it takes to retain the league title and fight back their way to compete in the elite continental club competition.
“We can’t blame the players because they did their best and we cannot sign more than expected – this season we tried to limit our spending by signing the best players for the league and champion’s league.
“They have tried their best. I’m really satisfied with the calibre of players. I believe they are capable of getting us the title again and continental ticket this season,” he concluded.