Rangers Internationals manager Salisu Yusuf has assured the club’s numerous supporters that his wards were developing with each game played in the ongoing 2020/2021 NPFL season with the target of being crowned champions at the end of the season intact.
Coach Salisu gave this assurance, Sunday, after watching his wards overcome hard fighting, Akwa United 1-0 in a matchday 2 fixture at ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, as Israel Abia’ lone strike at the hour mark proved the match-winner.
The vastly experienced gaffer stated that there was no reason to be apprehensive about the number of goals returned by the team in the games played thus far stressing, “We are not struggling to score goals. We have played two games, scored one goal but it’s not yet time to know whether the team cannot score. What we’re doing is that the team is developing per game in all departments.”
On the victory over visiting Akwa United ably led by Coach Kennedy Boboye, the Rangers technical head said, “It was a tough game. They are a good team too. They possessed the ball, they move forward but it’s about taking your chances. In the second half, we played better and created more chances. Thank God we won the game. The introduction of Madaki for injured Olawoyin added aggression in the attack for us just as that of Abia and Ajayi and at the end of the day, it paid off.”
Recall that coach Salisu made a little change to the personnel that fell to Rivers United on match day one, handing starts to two new boys, Ernest Governor and Christian Nnaji while Ifeanyi Nweke and Ibrahim Olawoyin got listed to start after a bench appearance in Port-Harcourt.
The host took control of the encounter from the blast of FIFA badge referee, Abdullahi Abubakar’ whistle signaling the start of hostilities and would have been in front as early as the 5th minute but Olawoyin incredibly missed inside the box after goalkeeper, Jean Efala had parried a shot onto his part but he jabbed wide.
Ernest Governor strayed upfront on 14 minutes to release a canon-like shot that was blocked out for a corner-kick and a minute later, the defence lynch-pin connected well with the corner-kick but the headed effort was beaten out by Efala to the reprieve of the visiting team.
On 23 and 25 minutes the visitors were pushed back again and rear mistake from Samson Gbadebo almost resulted in a goal for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ but Efala was again alert to snuff out the threat while Chiamaka Madu could only shoot tamely onto the waiting hands of the Cameroonian shot-stopper with the backline cleared out.
Christian Nnaji also had his own opportunity to score on 30 minutes but the duo of Olisa Ndah and Samson Gbadebo forced him out of target zone while the big Cameroonian between the sticks for the visitors really made himself big to deny Dauda Madaki’ well-struck free-kick from 28 meters to nestle inside the net on the stroke of half time.
The tide of the game continued as it was in the second half with the introduction of more fresh legs while created chances went begging until the hour mark when a neat interchange of passes started by Ugwuoke Ugochukwu found Ifeanyi Nweke who released Madaki to deliver an inch-perfect cross that was headed home by Israel Abia on second attempt after Efala had challenged his first attempt to send the home side’ reserve bench into wild jubilation.
Rangers will this weekend travel to Kaduna state for a date with Jigawa Golden Stars F.C inside the main bowl of Ahmadu Bello stadium with all eyes on the maximum points at stake.
RANGERS STARTING TEAM:
Nana Bonsu, Tope Olusesi, Ifeanyi Nweke, Tony Shimaga, Uche John, Ernest Governor, Ibrahim Olawoyin (Dauda Madaki- 40th min.), Chiamaka Madu (Shedrack Asiegbu -68th Min.), Agu Kenechukwu (Israel Abia -57th min.), Chinonso Eziekwe (Femi Ajayi -68th min.), Christian Nnaji (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -57th min.). SUBS NOT USED: Femi Thomas, Ebuka Franklin, Godspower Aniefiok, Chidiebere Nwobodo.
GOAL: Israel Abia – 60th minute.