Nigeria’ representative in this season’ Total/CAF Confederation cup, Rangers International F.C, Wednesday evening, inside Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu, edged past a defensive Defence Force S.C of Ethiopia courtesy of a Godwin Aguda’ brace.
The reigning NFF/Aiteo cup champions did not keep anyone in doubt on its intentions right from the blast of the referee’ whistle signaling start of hostilities but were wasteful on the day with Godwin Zaki the worst culprit.
Two penalty kicks awarded the ‘Flying Antelopes’ on 55 and 84 minutes were neatly converted by the diminutive midfielder after substitutes, Ajani Ibrahim and Kelvin Itoya were fouled in the box.
The visitors were presented with two golden opportunities in the dying moments of the first half as Minyilnu Wendimu shot wide with a yawning net at his mercy while Semiu Liadi reacted the quickest to clear a goal bound shot on 43 and 44 minutes.
This was a clear message to Rangers coach, Olugbenga Ogunbote who brought out Ifeanyi George for Ajani Ibrahim as the second half resumed to join force with Kelvin Itoya who had earlier been introduced late into the first half for Godwin Zaki and the tide completely turned in favour of the ‘Six Star Generals’.
Two goal hero who was denied a third by the cross bar as he connected beautifully with a Felix Ogbuke’ incisive cross which beat the keeper but not the cross bar on 87 minutes said after the encounter, “I give thanks to God for all His grace and favor in this match. It was not an easy match but we would have won by a wider margin. It is not over yet as we still have ninety minutes to play in Addis Ababa and I am optimistic of our qualification to the next round.”
Manager of the Ethiopian side, Seyoum Kebede said at the post match conference, “It was a good match and Rangers were lucky to have won but we still have our chance to turn the table in Addis Ababa. I must state that I seldom talk about officiating but the referee intimidated my players with cards however, the penalties were good calls. The game is not over yet.”
Technical adviser of Rangers, coach Olugbenga Ogunbote said after the match, “It was a good game that would have seen more goals but for our inability to convert some begging chances. I give kudos to my players for holding their own despite all the challenges that came our way as we prepared for this encounter. It is good we did not concede any goal today going into the second leg as we hope to build on the positives from this match. Our dream is on and we must keep pushing until we get to the target we set for ourselves.”
The game watched by a very appreciative crowd saw the handing of starting place to a certain Akpos Adubi who was snatched from Insurance of Benin and he shorn like a million stars in the heart of defence with Semiu Liadi.
Rangers will travel for the return leg at the magnificent, thirty-five thousand capacity Addis Ababa international stadium in a week’ time with the ticket to the first round on their minds.