The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C was truly at home in the matchday 13, NPFL 2021 fixture against fierce neighbours, Heartland in an ‘Oriental Derby’ as the coach Salisu Yusuf’ wards ran away with a 2-0 win to stop the five-match unbeaten run of the ‘Naze Millionaires’ in Enugu.
Nigerian born, Benin international, Isaac Loute was the hero of the day as his well struck effort from nearly forty yards sailed past a stranded Emeka Nwabulu who stood between the sticks for the visitors on eight minutes of play.
Strike partners for the Enugu side, Israel Abia and Christian Nnaji had opportunities to increase the tally on 13, 20 and 23 minutes but inexplicably missed when it was much easier to have found the back of the opponent’ net.
On 28 minutes, Nwabulu had to make himself large enough to cut out a goal-bound shot from Israel Abia before the reigning top goals scorer was substituted, injured at the half-hour mark while it was the turn of Rangers’ Ghanaian shot stopper, Nana Bonsu to produce a reactionary save to beat out a Kingsley Maduforo’ close-range effort on 42 minutes.
Godspower Aniefiok Tower nodded home the second goal of the day for the host on the stroke of half time as he rose well to connect an Isaac Loute’ welltaken corner kick.
Rangers’ gaffer, Coach Salisu Yusuf made only two changes to the team that he fielded against Wikki Tourist in Bauchi as he rested goalkeeper, Femi Thomas just as Ernest Governor took over from Ebuka Anthony in the heart of the defence.
In the second stanza, the host continued to probe for more openings at the back of the visitors with Chidiebere Nwobodo and Godspower Aniefiok Tower leading the onslaught but it was not to be even when the visitors were reduced through the sending off of Orji Kalu Okagbue on 55 minutes for his second booking of the game.
On 75 and 77 minutes, substitute, Chinonso Eziekwe missed a seater and two minutes later, an inch perfect cross from Godspower was missed by Eziekwe and Nnaji with Nwabulu well beaten.
With the win, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ have moved up the twenty teams log to the third position with twenty-three points from thirteen matches and will next engage Kano Pillars in Kaduna in a matchday 14 fixture.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was a very tough match but we took two of the many chances we created to earn us the win. We could have scored more than what we ended up scoring but we thank God for the two goals and the three points. The win is very important for our ambition this season and we hope to keep working on the lapses noticed.”
Left-back, Isaac Loute, who scored one and assisted another, said after the match, “It was a good one and it just went the way we planned it and we give God all the glory. I feel good for my performance today as that is always the wish of any player to be on top of his game at all times for his team.”
RANGERS TEAM: Nana Bonsu, Ifeanyi Nweke, Isaac Loute (Ebuka Anthony -49th Min.), Tony Shimaga, Uche John, Ernest Governor, Chiamaka Madu (Shedrack Asiegbu -79th Min.), Israel Abia (Chinonso Eziekwe -30th Min.), Christian Nnaji (Esor Achibong -79th Min.), Godspower Aniefiok Tower (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -79th Min.), Chidiebere Nwobodo. SUBS NOT USED: Seidu Mutawakilu, Osas Okoro, Christian Madu.
GOALS: Isaac Loute – 8th Minute, Godspower Aniefiok Tower – 45th Minute.