It was a come-from-behind win for the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C as they rallied from a late first half slip that allowed Hammed Yakub enough space to plant a header past Nana Bonsu on 43 minutes to earn a hard earned 2-1 win in a match day 30, NPFL 2020/21 fixture over visiting Abia Warriors in Enugu.
Christian Nnaji got the equalizer for the coach Salisu Yusuf’ wards just seven minutes into the second half as he converted his eighth goal of the season with a sumptuous back-flip from an Ifeanyi Nweke’ weak shot just as Kenechukwu Agu completed the come back with a trade mark free-kick that saw Ojo Olorunleke of Abia Warriors parry the ball into his net under slight pressure from Ugochukwu Ugwuoke and Esor Achibong just four minutes from time.
Coach Yusuf kept faith with the match day 29 squad that secured a victory on the road in Ozoro save for the trio of Christian Madu, Ugochukwu Ugwuoke and Esor Achibong.
The former Super Eagles gaffer opted for a 4-3-3 formation that had Israel Abia, Christian Nnaji and Godspower Aniefiok leading the attack with Charles Tiesso, Chidiebere Nwobodo and Shedrack Asiegbu anchoring the middle of the pack with the regular backline in place, took the game to the half of the opponents as referee Datom Yohana signaled the start of hostilities in the ‘Oriental Derby’ that happened inside ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu.
In the first eight minutes of the very tough encounter, goalkeeper, Ojo Olorunleke had produced three superb saves to deny Israel Abia and Christian Nnaji while on 18 minutes, the towering shot stopper was again alive to beat out Abia’ glancing header but on 40 minutes, Abia got injured and limped out of the game and in the process of substitutions, the visitors got the curtain raiser when unmarked Hammed Yakub connected home a Godwin Obaje’ flick-on from a corner kick on 43 minutes.
Early substitutes, Daniel Vendaga and Esor Achibong helped in the search for a much needed equalizer that did not materialize as both sides retired for the first half but on resumption of play, the goal came off a back-flip from top scorer, Christian Nnaji with the winning goal coming just four minutes from the end of proceedings.
Coach Mbwas Mangut who spoke after the encounter, said, “It was a very tough match which was expected but we started slowly and gifted them a goal in the first half but we fought back gamely to get our equalizer and the winning goal towards the end of the match. We hope to keep the fight on as it is not over until it is over.”
Benin Republic Left-back, Isaac Loute said, “It was a tough match which became tougher after we let in the goal but thank God, we got our acts together, scored the equalizer and winning goal. Abia Warrior is not a small team anyday and we respect them for the game they brought to us. We hope to keep doing well until the end of the season.”
With the win, Rangers’ points haul is now 49 from 30 matches played and occupy the 7th position as they travel to Ilorin this weekend for a date with Kwara United in a match day 31 fixture slated for Ilorin sports complex.
RANGERS TEAM: Nana Bonsu, Ifeanyi Nweke, Isaac Loute, Tiesso Charles (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -62nd Min.), Ebuka Anthony, Ernest Governor, Shedrack Asiegbu (Kenechukwu Agu – 62nd Min.), Chidiebere Nwobodo (Esor Achibong -41st Min.), Christian Nnaji, Godspower Aniefiok (Elijah Ani -72nd Min.), Israel Abia (Daniel Vendaga – 41st Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Femi Thomas, Uche John, Chiamaka Madu, Femi Ajayi.
GOALS: Christian Nnaji – 52nd Minute, Kenechukwu Agu -86th Minute.