The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C, were left ruing what would have been in the second ‘Oriental Derby’ of the season as fierce rivals, Enyimba International snatched the maximum points at stake with a very late strike from substitute, Emeka Obioma, at their adopted Nnewi, home ground.
Coach Abdul Maikaba kept faith with the squad that earned a road win in Katsina except for shot-stopper, Saidu Mutawakilu in the matchday 2, NPFL 2021/2022 fixture that was well contested by both sides as the visitors enjoyed a large percentage of domination in the first stanza with few goal attempts while the host turned the tide in the second half with over six attempts at goal but was unlucky not to have found the back of the net.
Between the 66th and 72nd minutes of play, the coach Abdul Maikaba’ wards saw four of their efforts failing to rest in the net even when goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke, was well beaten.
Substitute, Ifeanyi Nweke watched in awe as his looping header beat Ojo but came off the crossbar on 66 minutes just as Ugochukwu Ugwuoke could not believe his luck when his connecting header on 68 minutes from a Kenechukwu Agu’ corner-kick came off the crossbar while Chidiebere Nwobodo’ effort two minutes later was beaten out by the goalkeeper.
The catalog of misses continued on 72 minutes when diminutive, Nwobodo dribbled his way past a sea of tackling legs to carve out an opportunity but his shot went wide with only the goalkeeper at his mercy.
With the match dragging to a seeming scoreless encounter, late substitute, Emeka Obioma, was fed by a gentle chip from Philip Ozor to beat his marker at the edge of the box and ran clear to slot the ball past on-rushing Bamidele Adeniyi for the only goal of the match on 88 minutes to hand the ‘Peoples Elephant’ its second win of the season.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the encounter, “Actually it was a very good game. The two teams played very well but I believe we created more opportunities at goal but we were just unlucky not to have scored earlier. Not just one, not two, but about three times, the crossbar prevented a goal. Despite that, we have seen some gray areas where we have to go back and work more especially, our defending.”
Rangers will next travel to Ijebu-Ode to take on Sunshine Stars F.C at their adopted home of Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu-Ode on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, in a matchday 3 fixture.
RANGERS TEAM: Bamidele Adeniyi, Tope Olusesi (Ifeanyi Nweke -57th Min.), Ernest Governor, Ebuka Anthony, Bala Akintunde, Christian Madu (Shedrack Asiegbu -67th Min.), Kenechukwu Agu, Ugwuoke Ugochukwu, Tony Eliagwu (Julius Ikechukwu-57th Min/Christian Nnaji-86th Min.), Chidiebere Nwobodo, Ossy Martins (Chinonso Eziekwe -86th Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Olawale Doyeni, Tofic Omar, Uche John.