It was counter-attacking football at its best inside the main bowl of Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, as coach Salisu Yusuf’ wards of Rangers International F.C did a quick one over coach Gilbert Opana’ boys to snatch all three points at stake in a matchday 3, NPFL 2020/2021 fixture for its second win of the season.
The home lads were pressing for the opening goal of the highly entertaining encounter at one end of the pitch but a slip saw Shedrack Asiegbu clear from his side’ box which found Abia Israel that outfoxed his marker to release strike partner, Ajayi Femi who ran with the ball for a long stretch before blasting past an impressive, Godwin Paul on 77 minutes for the only goal of the match.
Both sides had started the encounter on a slow note probing each other’s rear with little success but the visitors soon gained confidence and dominance but Godwin Paul stood between the ‘Flying Antelopes’ and a harvest of goals.
Coach Yusuf showed his mastery of the game when he made two first-half substitutions just a little after the half-hour mark and for the last ten minutes of the half, four chances went begging with the agile Godwin Paul, blocking, parrying, pushing and clutching goal bound efforts from the likes of Kenechukwu Agu, Chinonso Eziekwe and Chidiebere Nwobodo.
On 57 minutes, Musa Kalla was on target as some neat interchange of passes opened up Rangers backline but his effort that was headed for the bottom of the net was blocked out by Ugochukwu Ugwuoke to the relief of the travelling lot.
On 61 and 65 minutes, Chinonso Eziekwe and Abia Israel came close to breaking the deadlock but experienced, Godwin Paul, was the reason the ball failed to find its way into the net.
Three minutes to the end of the encounter, Israel Abia saw his effort hit the side net after a neat interchange of passes released him to try his luck.
After the encounter, coach Mbwas Mangut who stood in for the technical adviser, Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “I will have to give credit to the players because they were able to stand their ground even after Jigawa came out fighting. We started the first half well creating a number of chances but their goalkeeper was at his best and denied us some good chances but in the second half, we did what we came to do in Kaduna that gave us the three points. Jigawa is a good and dangerous side if given the opportunity to express themselves. Our first half substitution was a positive one and it paid off at the end of the match.”
Midfield maestro, Chiamaka Madu said after the road win, “It was a hard fought victory. We prepared for this game very well after talking to ourselves that one point was good but the three would be better and thank God, we got all three points. We were very optimistic of nipping this one and fought as a team that needed to win. Ajayi the goal scorer has been showing a lot of self-belief in training and he displayed it in that goal just as Abia did well with that assist. We have our targets for this season and we hope to actualize it by the end of the season.”
Rangers will next play neighbors, F.C Ifeanyiubah in a match day 4 fixture inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, behind closed door in accordance to LMC/PTF/NCDC Covid-19 health protocols.
RANGERS TEAM: Nana Bonsu, Tope Olusesi, Ifeanyi Nweke, Tony Shimaga, John Uche, Ernest Governor, Christian Nnaji (Chidiebere Nwobodo -35th min.), Chiamaka Madu (Israel Abia -62nd min.), Kenechukwu Agu (Shedrack Asiegbu -75th min.), Dauda Madaki (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke – 35th min.), Chinonso Eziekwe (Femi Ajayi -62nd min.). SUBS NOT USED: Femi Thomas, Osas Okoro, Franklin Ebuka, Godspower Aniefiok.
GOAL: Femi Ajayi – 77th minutes.