Technical Adviser to the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C of Enugu has sounded it clear to his wards and followers that he and his team were condemned to snatch the maximum points at stake as they confront defending champions of the league, Akwa United F.C in a matchday 18, NPFL 2021/2022 fixture.
In an exclusive chat with RangersMedia, Friday, before the team departed for Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital, the vastly experienced tactician said that his team cannot afford any more slip if the dreams of emerging champions or picking a continental ticket at the end of the season were to be realized.
“Actually, whether we like it or not, if our aspiration is to win the league or go to the continent, we have to beat teams like Akwa United in their home ground. If we cannot do that, then, I am afraid that we can’t get to our destination. So, our mission is to go all out to get the three points at stake in Uyo because, Akwa United is close behind us on the log and if we fail to get the win, we shall be behind them and I don’t want it that way. We shall give our all to ensure we come back to Enugu with the maximum points and consolidate on the task of catching up with the early pace setters,” stated coach Maikaba.
On the kind of reception, he expects from Uyo fans this weekend, the Rangers gaffer said, “I expect a cordial reception when we hit Uyo because while working for their team, they appreciated my professionalism to the job which they expect to see from my new club, Rangers.”
Coach Maikaba rues the absence of such players as Ugochukwu Ugwuoke, Ossy Martins, and a host of others for this crucial encounter stressing, “The absence of these key players in the set-up will be felt but we have capable replacements that can hold their own when the chips are down. I expect a difficult match in Uyo but we shall come out tops at the end of the match.”
The forms of both side in this battle of former league champions is very close as Rangers have been able to harvest eleven points from the available eighteen just as Akwa United also boasts the same number of points from same number of matches as the form read thus; W, D, D, L, W, W for Rangers who are placed on the 4th position in the twenty team log with 28 points while for Akwa United, it’s D, W, L, W, W, D and currently placed 6th on the log with 27 points.
A little peep into past encounters involving both clubs gives the visitors to the ‘Nest of Champions’, Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Rangers International F.C, an edge with nine wins out of the 23 encounters they have played with Akwa United winning five of them while nine ended in draws. Last season, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ had the bragging rights after a 1-0 win in Enugu on January 3, 2021, and the return leg in Uyo on May 24, 2021, ended goalless to cancel out Akwa United’s edge a season earlier when it ended 0-0 in Uyo on February 9, 2020 and a 2-1 win for the ‘Promise Keepers’ on February 16, 2020, at ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.