Frenchman Lionel Emmanuel Soccoia has arrived in the Northern Nigerian city of Kano ahead of his unveiling as new Kano Pillars manager. The club recently announced the appointment of the coach ahead of the new Nigeria Professional League season scheduled to begin on 15 November 2020, as well as the preliminary rounds of the CAF Confederations Cup which will also commence next month.
Soccoia’s appointment comes in response to a recent directive by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that all participating clubs in the 2020/2021 CAF club football competitions must hire coaches that possess CAF ‘A’ coaching licenses or its equivalent. The directive effectively disqualified Pillars present technical Adviser, Ibrahim Musa who holds CAF ‘C’ and ‘B’ licenses. Musa led Pillars to the 2019 Nigeria FA Cup title and is expected to keep his post under Soccoia.
The Kano State government had set up a 3-man committee saddled with the responsibility of recommending a new technical adviser for the 4-time league champions. Soccoia was reportedly picked from a five-man shortlist. Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has approved the appointment.
Pilars had also reportedly been negotiating with former Nigeria national U-20 coach Manu Garba.
Soccoia has plenty of experience of working on the African continent after stints in South Africa, Tanzania, Cameroon, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic. His last job was as head coach of South African club Black Leopards in September 2019.
He had a term to forget as coach of the PSL side, amassing just four points in 5 games, despite money splashed to sign experienced players like Thabo Matlaba, Thuso Phala, Mogakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila among others.
Kano Pillars were founded in 1990 by Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, a former president of the Nigeria Football Association and a former commissioner for sport in Kano Stae. The club came into existence following the merger of WRECA FC, Kano Golden Stars and Bank of the North FC and is today regarded as one of the leading clubs in the NPFL.
The four-time league champions are also one of the most widely supported teams in Nigeria, regularly filling out their 16,000 capacity Sani Abacha Stadium.
CAF has announced that player registrations for the 2020-21 club competitions will be open from October 21 to November 19, with the first leg of the preliminary rounds for both the Champions League and Confederation Cup set for November 20-22. The second legs will take place a week later.
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