It was a determined display from coach Abdul Maikaba’ wards in the match day 13, NPFL 2022/2023 Abridge season encounter at the Akure Township Stadium as the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C secured a vital 1-1 draw to share the spoils with host’s, Sunshine Stars, Sunday.
Coach Maikaba kept faith with majority of the starting squad against Lobi Stars as the troika of David Chimezie, Naziru Auwalu and Reuben Bala were the new additions as the midfield combination of Esor, Naziru and Ugwueze were a delight to watch.
Despite dictating the pace of the match in the early part, the Enugu side was pegged back on 13 minutes when an Olawale Doyeni’ kick was intercepted midway by Lucky Gyang who released Yusuf Ibrahim with an inch-perfect pass that was slotted past a diving Emeka Nwabulu for the opening goal of the encounter.
Rangers, though stunned by the early setback did not seat back to be roasted but took the fight to the half of the opponent with the trio of Godwin Obaje, Reuben Bala and Chidiebere Nwobodo leading the search for the equalizer which came on 28 minutes off the boot of Nwobodo who drilled home from a very tight angle after been set up by Chidera Ezeh off a Naziru Auwalu’ pass.
Both sides created more scoring opportunities but a combination of quality goalkeeping and solid defending ensured that no more goal was recorded even as Obaje missed on 48 minutes, Nwabulu stood like a big rock to stop three glorious chances for the home side.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the match, “I actually came here to win but the early goal conceded demoralized the boys but the determination was there in the boys which gave us the equalizer and had more opportunity to go ahead early in the second half, but was missed. I think it was a fair result to both sides as we keep working to ensure we end the season well.”
Rangers remain on the 7th spot on the Group B log with 14 points from 13 matches and will next play Niger Tornadoes in a match day 14 fixture at the Awka City Stadium in the weekend of April 15/16, 2023.
RANGERS TEAM: Emeka Nwabulu, Chidera Ezeh, Kenneth Igboke, Chinemerem Ugwueze, Olawale Doyeni, David Chimezie, Esor Achibong (Innocent Gabriel -84th Min.), Reuben Bala (Kingsley Maduforo -84th Min.), Godwin Obaje (Hadi Mohammed -84th Min.), Naziru Auwalu (Samuel Pam -58th Min.), Chidiebere Nwobodo (Ejike Uzoenyi -77th Min.). UNUSED SUBS: Nana Bonsu, Uche John, Austin Osayande, Austin Onyemaechi.
GOAL: Chidiebere Nwobodo -28th Minute.