An official of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) runners-up, Kano Pillars has disclosed that the club will be without five of their key players for this weekend’s second leg CAF Champions League first round qualifier against Asante Kotoko of Ghana, due to expired international passports of the lads in question.
The official pointed out that the affected players reported late with their passports when they were told to submit them for the registration process, only for them to be seen as expired, and the club could not finalise their renewals before the expiration of CAF’s deadline.
The development meant Sai Masu Gida ended up playing the first leg in Kano with an under-strength squad, which the official said accounted for their struggles in the encounter, as they trailed 2-1 at a point, before storming back to win 3-2 through sheer determination.
However, heading into the second leg in Kumasi this weekend, the official is very uneasy, as he admitted that the coaching crew will again have to make do without the five first team players, who will only be eligible for selection if the team scales through the preliminary first round fixtures.
Among those who are not eligible to feature in both continental games are 2018 Higher Institution Football League (HIFL) revelation, David Ebuka, who scored in Pillars’ last friendly against Sosso FC, which his side won 3-0, but watched the first leg against Kotoko from the stands.
Should Pillars managed to scale Kotoko’s blockade this weekend, they will face either Hafia FC of Guinea or Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in the second round, but the Northern club’s official is wary of their chances.
The official lamented during a radio programme monitored in Lagos: “One big problem we have is that some of our players are not available to play against Kotoko, because their international passports expired.
“We told all the players to submit their passports early, so that we could process them for the Champions League, but many of them brought them late, and about five of them even submitted expired passports.
“We then had to start running around to see how we could renew the passports before the CAF deadline, but that was not possible, as we could only get them a few days before the first leg against Kotoko.
“The passports are now ready, but they cannot play home and away against Kotoko. It means we can only have them if we qualify for the next round. That’s if we can at least draw away to Kotoko in Ghana.”