The Practice Pitch of FIFA Goal Project inside Package B, Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, will practically be set on fire, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, as Nigeria’s most followed clubs, Rangers International F.C of Enugu and Kano Pillars F.C of Kano trade tackles for a place in the Round of 16 of 2023 Federation Cup.
Smarting from a deserved goalless draw in an NPFL 2022/2023 match day 17 tie in Gombe against premiership new boys, Doma United, to maintain a seven-match unbeaten run, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ under coach Abdul Maikaba is set to do the needful against the coach Evans Ogenyi’ tutored side that is pushing for an immediate return to the top flight from the NNL having won four of its five matches in Group A3 of the NNL scoring nine goals and leaking only once at the back.
With the likes of Chidiebere Nwobodo, Godwin Obaje, Leonard Ugochukwu, and experienced campaigner and FIFA World Cup star, Ejike Uzoenyi in their elements, fans of the Enugu side are assured of a good output on the pitch as they come up against the legend, Rabiu Ali inspired ‘Sai Masu Gida’ young guns of Chinedu Ike, Joseph Yanki, Abdullahi Adamu, Uche Sabastine and Bright Silas for a place in the last sixteen stage of the annual competition.
Both sides got to this stage of the national competition without a kick of the ball as their opponents failed to show up in the round of 64 Adamawa United F.C chose to concentrate on its chase for promotion to the elite division than traveling to Abuja to engage Rangers International while Ilaji F.C of Oyo did not show up for their encounter with Kano Pillars F.C in Minna, Niger State.
Players, coaches, and management of the six-time champions of the oldest club football competition in the country, Rangers, are looking to do a repeat of the 2018 finals in the now famous, ‘Asaba Miracle’ where the Enugu side came from three goals down to equalize within the last thirteen minutes and went on to be crowned champions 4-3 on penalty kicks, as a soothing balm for the performance in the Abridged NPFL season and picking the sole ticket to represent the country in next season’s CAF Confederation Cup competition.
Coach Abdul Maikaba is full of optimism going into this tie as he said, “It is going to be tough but I am optimistic that my players will do the needful on the pitch against a side that we defeated in the finals five years ago. My optimism is drawn from the fact that we have been playing well lately, going seven matches unbeaten and the understanding in the playing ranks is high. We are approaching the match like a cup final because there is no second chance in the Federation Cup.”
Recall that Rangers defeated Enugu based, NLO side, Ingas F.C, 5-1 in the final match of the Enugu State F. A Cup to be crowned state champions while in last year’s inconclusive national competition, the most decorated side in the competition, lost to Heartland F.C 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation time inside Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.