The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C of Enugu will today, January 6, 2024, look to continue its rich vein of form in the 2023/2024 NPFL season as it storms the ancient city of Benin to challenge for the maximum points at stake against the host, Bendel Insurance F.C for a perfect start to the new year, 2024.
The magnificent, Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia Stadium in Ogbe quarters will be the venue for this soccer battle that has a legendary status going by what both sides have been able to achieve for themselves in time past.
Since the return of the ‘Benin Arsenals to the top rank of the Nigerian league under coach Monday Odigie, they have displayed a lot of guts in reminding football followers of what they used to be in the latter part of last century while the ‘Flying Antelopes’ that prides itself as the only club not to have tested relegation in almost fifty-four years of its existence, is still pushing towards achieving its set targets for the season.
After going on a three-match losing streak, the coach Fidelis Ilechukwu tutored side have turned the difficult bend and are on the upward thrust with two home wins and a draw on the road against league’s defending champions, Enyimba while age-long rivals, Insurance have made their home ground a fortress with the only glitch being the 2-2 draw earned by Kwara United in November of last year.
Rangers pride itself as the second-best attacking side in the ongoing season having notched up twenty-one goals (ten more than their opponents) but a leaky defense line that has been breached sixteen times as against eight by Insurance, makes this encounter mouth-watering coupled with added monetary incentive coming from Rangers’ major shirt sponsor, Afrinvest.
In the last five league matches, Rangers’ form reads thus; W,D,W,L,L while that of Bendel Insurance runs thus; D,W,L,W,L and the Enugu side will be banking on the new found form that saw it dispatch another ach-rival, 3SC of Ibadan 2-0 in their last fixture hoping that the likes of Chukwudi Nwaodu, Jonas Emmanuel, Kalu Nweke, Frank Uwumiro, Chiedozie Okorie, and kid-dynamit, Kelechukwu Edeh finds their ranges against a mean defense line with goalkeeper and captain, Amas Obasogie as the last man in the line of defense, just as the backline of Rangers would be weary of the trickery of Ismail Sarki, Chisom Okereke, Junior Osaghae, Austin Ogunye, Divine Nwachukwu, and Evans Ogbonda.
With the loss of last year’s Aiteo Cup still fresh in the minds of Rangers supporters all around the globe, the current crop of players is fired up to ensure that the upward movement enjoyed now is maintained as they push for a top finish in the season.