Some highly revered African football legends have stormed the ancient city of Kano to play for the internally displaced persons there.
A report by Daily Sun has shown that some African football legends will be staging a charity game intended to raise money for thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across various states in the North.
Former Super Eagles captain and Arsenal FC great, Nwankwo Kanu, and Senegal’s former skipper, Hadji Diouf, will lead a legion of ace footballers who have made their mark in the game on the A world stage in a game against Kano Pillars. The encounter comes up on Thursday, December 14, at the 29,000-capacity Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
Daily Sun was told that the charity contest was already eliciting immense excitement in the city and beyond. Everyone in Kano is already talking about the game.
The footballers are coming to play for the thousands of Nigerians currently camped in different IDP camps across the country, most of which are in the North.
The effort was previewed at a briefing in Kano, which witnessed a large turnout of reporters, football administrators, ex- internationals, and non-governmental organisations, among other stakeholders.
The pre-event team was led by Nwankwo Kanu and Hadji Diouf.
The legends’ line-up would include Kanu, Diouf, Stephen Apia of Ghana, Mohammed Kallon of Seirra Leone, Daniel Kusen from Gabon, Lucas Valeriu Ntuba Radebe and Cyril Mbilla from Congo, Fabian McCarthy of South Africa, Benjamin Mwaruwari of Zimbabwe, Michael Kojo Essien of Ghana, and Kolo Toure of Ivory Coast.
Other Nigerian ex-internationals billed for the game include Kano-born Garba Yaro-Yaro, Samson Siasia, Garba Lawal, Tijani Babangida, Mutiu Adepoju, Peter Rufai and Daniel Amokachi, among others.
Moo Mohammed Mustapha, one of the organisers of th event, described the game as “just more than a game.” He indicated that it was the first time in the history of football that a group of legends would be playing to raise funds and highlight the challenges of IDPs in Nigeria.
“Kano Pillars would be the first team in Nigeria to play against the African legends,” he said.
Chairperson of the local organising committee, Miss Abi Goodman, who drew a pathetic picture of the disheartening condition of the IDPs, urged the world to rise to action now.
Speaking about the match, Kanu remarked that it was a matter of personal duty to raise funds and create awareness about less fortunate Nigerians: “People talk about the IDPs and soon after forget about their plights.”
He also assured the audience that the African football legends would not relent in their effirts, until every displaced person living in Nigeria had a better life.
“We want the federal government, the state governors, corporate bodies and individuals to come to action. This is the time for action,” said Kanu.
“It is not easy to gather the legends from across Africa. But it is easy to know why they are doing it. They are giving back to Africa and they are giving back to the people,” he said.
Kanu noted that all hands must be on deck to make the match a success, as he charged the media and other platforms to help create awareness for the game and for the dislodged Nigerians.
Asked why Kano was picked for the match, Moo Mohammed Mustapha reasoned that the huge fan base of Kano Pillars Football Club was the deciding factor.
“If you check in Nigeria today, if you want to do anything that has anything to do with football, it is only in Kano that you get the highest number of fans. This is where our game is going to sell the most and this is where we would get what we want,” he said.
Goodman vouched for the integrity of the whole fund-raising game, saying that all funds realised from the match would be used for the purpose of addressing the needs of IDPs.
“At the moment, we are working with a couple of charities and one of them is Kanu Heart Foundation. They have been around for a while. And the reason we are going round to do it with them is that we have done our due diligence and also gone through the data work of what they have done in the past. And they are unblemished.
“We are sure that whatever comes in from the match would definitely go into what we planned to use it for, which is setting up a food bank and assisting one of the organisations with the de-worming of the people in the IDPs’ camp,” she said.
In his vote of thanks, chairman of Kano Pillars Football Club, Alhaji Muhammed Tukur Babangida, appreciated the organisers of the games for selecting his club to play against the legends.
“When we, Kano Pillars Football Club, were invited to come and participate in this noble cause by playing for charity, we felt very happy.
“Kano Pillars is ready to participate to the delight of our fans for the benefit of the people who are displaced. We are looking forward to that day,” he said.