The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C, ward off a late challenge from F.C Ifeanyiubah to annex the maximum points at stake with a 2-1 scoreline for the club’s third straight win in the four-week-old NPFL 2020/2021 season.
Coach Salisu had juggled his team a bit from the team that earned a 1-0 road win over Jigawa Golden Stars over the weekend handing starts to Osas Okoro, Ebuka Franklin, Chidiebere Nwobodo, Ugwuoke Ugochukwu, and Israel Abia while keeping faith with Nana Bonsu to man the post.
It was a blistering start for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ as they would have had their nose in front as early as the 2nd minute when Israel Abia’ connecting header off a Christian Nnaji’ inch-perfect cross was bravely pushed out by goalkeeper, Sharp Uzoigwe who had to be at his ‘Sharpest’ best to block out another headed effort by Christian Nnaji who connected well with an Osas Okoro cross on five minutes.
Israel Abia had another opportunity to break the deadlock on 7 minutes but his shot was comfortably coddled by an impressive Uzoigwe but there was no stopping last season’ top goal scorer, Abia from twelve yards on 12 minutes after the referee had awarded the home side a spot-kick following the upending of Nnaji by Evans Obonda inside the box.
Efforts to increase the tally did not see the light of the day as Uzoigwe was at his best to thwart all goal-bound shots while his opposite, Nana Bonsu, who captained his side for the match, had to be alert at the half-hour mark to beat out a Lukman Aliu’ well-struck shot.
Ekene Awazie restored parity for the visiting ‘Anambra Warriors’ after a breakdown in communication from Rangers’ backline with the second half just six minutes old but the celebration for the equalizer did not last long as a substitute, Shedrack Asiegbu, curled home from inside the opponent’s box on 55 minutes after some hesitant defending.
The introduction of Femi Ajayi, Ojukwu Ifegwu, and Dauda Madaki by coach Salisu did not help in breaching the backline of the visitors again as they restrained to a handful of long-range shots that failed to trouble a very ‘Sharp’, Sharp Uzoigwe’ well-mashalled backline till referee, Mohammad Abubakar brought proceedings to a halt.
Rangers will at the weekend be guest of MFM, the ‘Olukoya Babes’ at the ‘Soccer Temple’, Agege Township Stadium, Lagos, with a win the sole target for the seven-time Nigeria league champions.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was a very tough and difficult match as our opponent played with so much determination most probably because of their home loss at the weekend. However, we were able to subdue them. Their goalkeeper also made some great saves today which made the result more respectable.”
Coach Uche Okagbue of F.C Ifeanyiubah said, “My players gave too much respect to our opponents in the first half but after the pep talk during the break, we got our groove on and would have left here with at least a draw. I am really feeling low following our two straight losses and hopefully, we shall soon come out of our difficult position.”
Match winner, Shedrack Asiegbu, said, “I feel happy that my goal helped us to win the match today. It was a difficult time for me after I came in for an injured teammate late in the first half and when we were still plotting on how to crack our opponent’ defense, we let in the equalizer but to God be the glory that we fought back and got the winning goal. It can only get better.”