CLUB NEWS

Former Enyimba duo Kamal, Udoji find love in Kano fans

By Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal

They had looked forward to their new club overcoming the old one and they expected the win, but for Kano Pillars’ new signings, Sikiru Kamaldeen and Chinedu Udoji, it was purely for the three points and nothing sentimental.

The duo, who were signed from Enyimba just before the season began, played key roles in Kano Pillars’ Matchday 12 win in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) over Enyimba at the Sani Abacha Stadium and seemed to have settled well in the city where the love for football comes before many others.

“The fans in Kano have been fantastic and, everywhere you go, they see you and they want to shake hands or take pictures with you. These are heart-warming gestures which should make a player want to give more to his club.

“I was born in Jos, so my coming to Kano is not strange to me. It is like my second home and I fit in as nicely as I can. Not much has changed. I love the city and the people, the fans love me in return and I am happy,” said a bearded Kamal to npfl.ng.

While life has been “sweet, simple and easy” for Kamal, Udoji, who was born in Kaduna, has not fared any worse.

“I was born and brought up in Kaduna. I was in FC Abuja before I joined Enyimba, but I would love to say that the life here and that in Aba are quite different.

“I think the people up north are freer and more interesting. There is little I have done to adjust, even though I spent seven years in Aba,” said Udoji, who was treated to a welcome reception by the fans before he signed for the Kano club.

“When the news broke that I was coming here, I started getting phone calls from different people and positive posts on Facebook. They congratulated me and let me know how happy the news of my coming made them. That warmed me up. When I finally arrived, the welcome I got was something else. The fans are great, passionate people,” disclosed Udoji.

In spite of the fact that he has changed clubs, one thing Udoji has stuck with is his style of play. He stopped some incursions from the visitors with his timely, blunt tackles and, in his usual candid way, vowed never to tone it down any time soon. Not unless his coaches say otherwise.

“Everyone knows – the fans, the coaches and my teammates – it is my style of play. If they did not like that, they would not have wanted me to come to this club. That does not mean, though, that everyone will love your style of play; not even Ronaldo or Messi is that lucky. I am passionate about where I belong at the moment,” he said, matter-of-factly.

Udoji and Kamal worked with Ikhana in Enyimba and, now, they are re-united at Pillars. This has helped the new signings fuse into the team, because the coach has retained aspects of his approach.

For Kamal, who now wears the No 28 jersey in his new club (while he wore the No 12 in Aba), he knows what the coach wants.

“I know what he wants, because I have worked with him before, so it is easy for me to understand him and, even, help others out. The coach’s experience will be good for us and, with the right mind and attitude, we will go far this season,” he said, hopefully.

While Kamal would have celebrated if he had scored against Enyimba, Udoji never gave thought to the idea of going soft for the duration of the game.

“When I played with Enyimba, it was all business and, coming to Pillars, it will be unfair and unprofessional to do any less for them,” Udoji insisted.

He regretted his 69th minute red card in the game against Enyimba, but called it a “part of the game.”

He said: “The red card is regrettable and I am glad it did not affect the game. In all, we were after the three points and we got it. The game was crucial, because we are both former champions and went hard against each other, but that was all it was.”

The duo rate Kano Pillars highly to win the title this season – just like skipper Gambo Mohammed has told all who cared to listen this season.

“If we work towards the same goal, we can do anything we want,” said an assured Kamal.

For Udoji: “It is possible, because these things are not meant for anybody; only the ones who want them the most.

“Look at Rangers. No one gave them a chance, but see what they did last season. Who says we cannot have fire in our bones and go that far? If we work hard, we can replicate what Rangers did. It all takes heart.”

Both lads have settled in Kano and, even, looked up some new accommodation. If they are as settled as they appear, then they could be in for a great hurrah, seeing as the Kano club have moved into the top-three, following the 1-0 win over Wikki Tourists at home on Wednesday, in a rescheduled Matchday 8 fixture.

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