Africa News blog

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New hope for Nigerian football

The progress of two Nigerian teams into the group phase of the African Champions League defies the supposed impact of the continuing exodus of the country’s top talent to almost every distant footballing corner of the world.

Kano Pillars caused a major upset last month with their shock win over defending champions Al Ahly, albeit on the away goal rule, while Heartland FC eliminated last year’s runners-up Coton Sport of Cameroon at the same stage of the competition. Both results plunged the established order into disarray and offer now the Nigerians a chance to prove their immense resources.

Nigerian club football has had steady representation in the Champions League over the last 13 years but besides Enyimba, the state sponsored team from Aba State, no club has ever displayed title winning potential.

Much of that has to do with the flight of players from the country, off in search of better earnings and opportunity on foreign football fields. There are more than 200 Nigerian footballers playing across the globe, from the top leagues in England, Germany, Italy and Spain to lesser footballing markets like India, Vietnam and even in Albania.