Like wine that tastes better with age, Kano Pillars attacker Gambo Muhammad rewound the clock as the Pyramid city club beat El-Kanemi Warriors 2-1 at Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
El-Kanemi were top of Group B going into the game and showed on a good number of occasions why they were up there.
Pillars had the ageless Gambo Muhammad and substitute David Ibuka to thank for picking maximum points.
Gambo shone in the first half with his eighth minute strike.
He would be substituted by Ibuka in the 57th minute. Four minutes after coming on, Ibuka doubled Pillars lead with his first contribution of the game.
It wasn’t however all about Gambo’s goal. He was Pillars biggest threat in attack while he was on the pitch.
In the 18th minute, he was denied his second of the evening when Osita Echendu cleared his goal-bound effort right on the line.
He looked sharp and put his physicality to good use holding the ball up and playing on his teammates.
Filing out in an attacking partnership with the younger Nyima Nwagua, Gambo most of the time cut the picture of the younger of the duo.
When his day was done and he seemed to be having difficulties coping with the younger opposition, coach Ibrahim Musa brought on the lively Ibuka who ensured the hosts sustained pressure in attack to peg back the ambitious visitors.
Ibuka’s impact in the latter stages was key as the visitors threatened a late fightback.
Three minutes after Pillars second goal, David Adeshola fouled Sani Abbani in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
From the ensuing penalty, substitute Bello Kofarmata sent keeper Idrissu Ibrahim the wrong way in the 66th minute.
Meanwhile, Chinedu Ohanacham had led the line well all evening for El-Kanemi proving a handful for Emmanuel Anyanwu and Sunday Chinedu.
With Kofarmata now complementing him in attack, the visitors always seemed set to punish the hosts on the counter.
Pillars had to endure a nervy end to pocket maximum points and boost their playoff chances.
KANO PILLARS: Idrissu Ibrahim; Victor Dennis, Chris Madaki, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Sunday Chinedu, Adeshola David, Nzube Anaezemba (Yusuf Maigoro 59′), Alassan Ibrahim (Bature Yaro 58′), Gambo Muhammad (David Ibuka, 57′), Rabiu Ali, Nyima Nwagua
Substitutes not used: Danladi Isah; Ifeanyi Nweke, Austin Igenepo, Adamu Hassan
Goals: Gambo Muhammad 8’, David Ibuka 61’
Yellow cards: Rabiu Ali (63′), David Adeshola (64′)
EL-KANEMI: Itodo Akor; Joe Maamo, Solomon Ogbehwe, Osita Echendu, Pade Tchoafine, Sani Ababni (Ba’akaka Ajikolo 82′), Anthony Yeful, Abdulrasak Aliyu (Isiaka Olawale 47′), Chinedu Ohanachom, Kabir Balogun (Bello Kofarmata, 62′), Jamiu Alimi
Substitutes not used: Modou Jobe, Abubakar Umar, Lucky Erimuya, Innocent Gabriel
Goal: Bello Kofarmata 66′ (PEN)
Yellow cards: Abdulrazak Aliyu (10′), Sani Abbani (79′)
Kano Pillars 2-1 El-Kanemi
On target 4-2
Yellow card 2-2