With Tornadoes, Bala seeks to end El-Kanemi’s winning home run

By Wale Mustapha

Niger Tornadoes coach Abubakar Bala leads his side to Maiduguri, knowing fully well it is a fortress of sorts for El-Kanemi Warriors that are yet to drop a point in a Nigeria Professional Football League fixture since returning to the ground in April last year.

Insurrection in the northeast had forced league organisers two seasons ago to move El-Kanemi's home matches away from Maiduguri to Kano and later, Katsina. With the Nigerian military’s ascendancy in the war to end the insurrection, the club on April 10 returned to their base and have since won all matches they played there.

But Bala says he has been working on a match-plan to halt that run when both sides meet in a Matchday 13 fixture of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). A win will be the Borno Warriors 20th on the bounce.

After an indifferent start to the season, Tornadoes look like they have steadied ship and will seek to continue their surge by becoming the first club to win or draw in Maiduguri.

A draw against title holders, Rangers International in Enugu and a win in Sagamu against Remo Stars are the backbone of Bala’s brimming confidence to grind out a result in Maiduguri this Sunday.

"I'm happy with what the boys are doing as we are taking all games as they come with absolute seriousness and determination. This reflected in our last game (a 2-0 home win over Nasarawa United) and I believe we can still improve as there are rooms to do better in next games," begins Bala.

"We are going to approach our next game with a special pattern, it's even good a lot of pundits will not give us a chance that we can get anything from Maiduguri, but it's a plus for us as all pressure will now be on El-Kanemi on Sunday.

"I'm sure we will surprise everyone at the end of the day and this was how we went to Enugu against Rangers and nobody saw us getting anything there. It was the same with Remo Stars. In Maiduguri, we hope for a better and friendly atmosphere and I'm sure you will all be shocked with the outcome of the result on Sunday," he said rather boastfully.

El-Kanemi Warriors are occupying second spot on the NPFL log with 21 points while Tornadoes sit sixth with 18 points from the same number of games played.

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