Total/CAF Confederation cup 2019/2020 hopefuls and seven time Nigeria league champions, Rangers International F.C have booked a place in the play-off round of the second tier continental club competition with a
4-3 aggregate win over Gabonese side, A.S Pelican.
It was a come-from-behind win for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ who were pegged back as early as the 5th minute when a Dertin Amores well struck free kick from the edge of the box found its way past the wall set by Japhet Opubo to rest in the bottom corner of the net to extend their aggregate lead at this point to 3-1.
To the credit of Coach Benedict Ugwu’ wards, they never panicked but took the battle to the half of the visitors with the quartet of Ifeanyi George, Ibrahim Olawoyin, Nnamdi Egbujuo and Tope Olusesi pulling the strings but goalkeeper and captain for the visitors, Donald Nze , showed class in keeping out all that was thrown at him.
However, on 18 minutes, Ifeanyi George scored the equalizer as his looping header off a defense splitting pass from the middle beat the onrushing Donald to send the half full ‘Cathedral’ into a wild celebration.
On the stroke of half time, George watched helplessly as his well struck effort inside the box greased the upright with Nze nowhere to make a save.
When both teams returned for the second stanza, it was the host that were hungrier and got rewarded with two goals within six minutes as Nnamdi Egbujuo out jumped others to nod home an Olawoyin’ inviting corner kick on 50 minutes while reacted well to scramble in an Ifeanyi George’ flicker off a Tope Olusesi long throw on 56 minutes as the large crowed went into a celebration mood.
The host had more than three other opportunities after the third goal but could not make them count which made the visitors get bold and attacked in the last quarter-hour of the match but Semiu Liadi and Akpos Adubi in the heart of defense for the host, stood their ground to earn a most wanted win to book a place in the play-off round where
they are expected to play one of the sixteen teams that lost out in the CAF Champions league second round matches.
A highly elated coach Ugwu said, “It was a very difficult match as the Gabonese side improved on their first leg performance. It became more challenging when they scored early but to the credit of my players, they did not panic and got the needed result to take us into the next round of the competition. I sincerely thank our fans who kept on
cheering even when we were down. We shall increase our work level as the next round approaches to ensure we scale that and qualify for the group stage by God’s grace.”
Also, captain of the side, Tope Olusesi, who did a great job in both attacking and defensive right winger, said, “We were really pushed to the limit but we were resolved to make our fans and supporters happy and thank God we made it through to the next round and we hope to go as far as the final match. It is our target to go further than we did last season.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Enugu state, Barrister (Mrs.) Henrietta Ani who represented the state governor at the match said, “It was a very good match and I congratulate the players for doing their best and qualifying for the next round of the competition. The manner with which we got the victory, goes a long way to show that, ‘Enugu is in the handsof God’.”
RANGERS TEAM: Japhet Opubo, Chidera Ezeh (Chinonso Eziekwe – 48thMin.), Ugwu Uwadiegwu, Tony Shimaga, Semiu Liadi, Akpos Adubi, Tope Olusesi, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Agu Kenechukwu), Ibrahim Olawoyin,
Ifeanyi George & Nnamdi Egbujuo (Isiaka Oladuntoye -88th Min.)
NOT USED: Femi Thomas, Kelvin Itoya, Kingsley Eleje & Uche John.
GOALS: Ifeanyi George – 18th minute, Nnamdi Egbujuo -50th minute and
Ibrahim Olawoyin -56th minute.
Coach: Benedict Ugwu
Referee: Jean Marc Ganamandji –Central African Republic.