Date: 26th July 2008 at 8:40pm
Written by: eastneydave

Pompey became the first Premier League team to play in West Africa when they took on Nigerian Champions Kano Pillars in a low key affair today. This was supposed to be the start of a Fiesta of Football but unfortunately due to no publicity the game was played in an empty stadium.

Communications were restricted by the removal of all technical kit from the stadium following the African Cup of Nations – leaving only local TV stations of mobile phones available.

The Pompey side that took the field was –

Ashdown
Primus
Campbell
Distin
Babayaro
Cranie
Bouba Diop
Davis
Utaka
Kanu
Sahar

Apart from David Nugent and Marc Wilson left at home the only player injured was Glen Johnson.

The stadium is huge but the pitch was poor with very long grass, which was not to the Pompey players liking. The stands were empty with a few hundred inside including about 20 Pompey fans. The game against weak opposition started in pouring rain.

First Half

After 7 minutes John Utaka put Pompey one up after a neat one two with Ben Sahar, he scored with a mishit shot. On 26 minutes Sahar scored himself after exchanging passes with Kanu. The Israeli took it round goalkeeper and rolled the ball home.

As the half drew to a close Sahar continued to look lively and drew a good save from the keeper. From the resultant corner Kanu put Pompey 3-0 ahead with a fine finish after a header from Diop.

Half Time Kano Pillars 0 Pompey 3

Pompey made nine changes at half time allowing Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch 45 minutes together up front.

Pompey lined up for the second half thus-

Ashdown
Lauren
Pamarot
Traore
Hreidarsson
Cranie
Mendes
Mvuemba
Kranjcar
Defoe
Crouch

The only unused substitute was David James.

Second Half

The second half was the Niko Kranjcar show. The Croatian making his first appearance in pre-season after being granted an extended break after Euro 08 showed all his tricks and skills and went close on several occasions as well as setting up others.

With sharper finishing Pompey could have racked up double figures but only had two more goals to show for their efforts. On 55 minutes Crouch scored from a Kranjcar cross and twenty minutes later he repeated the dose when he half volleyed under the keeper from 8 yards from a Cranie cross.

Kano Pillars 0 Pompey 5

A useful workout but was it worth going all that way with all those risks? The players obviously showed no ill effects from the flight problems the previous day.

Manchester United are the opposition tomorrow a different proposition. However they were playing the Kaiser Chiefs in South Africa today so they will be more tired than Pompey. It will be interesting to see the size of the crowd too as although this is an exercise in winning votes for the 2018 World Cup I hope the locals turn out to see two of England’s top sides do ‘battle’

The Quay have located the game on Sky Channel 198 tomorrow kick off 7.45pm.

PLAY UP POMPEY!

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