Norbert Okolie, Enugu
A well crafted 85th minute goal by former Super Eagles winger, Felix Ogbuke, who came on as a 72nd minute substitute for another ex-Super Eagles star, Michael Uchebo, was all seven-time league champions, Rangers International needed to annex all three points at stake in a match day 20 NPFL 2018/2019 fixture against visiting Bendel Insurance.
The ‘Flying Antelopes’ got off to a flying start in the encounter that happened inside ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium and watched by an appreciable number of spectators but could not break down a well knitted defense line of the coach Monday Odigie tutored side.
As early as the second minute of the highly entertaining encounter, Rangers top scorer, Godwin Aguda was presented a golden opportunity to shot the host into a well deserved lead as an inch perfect cross from Tope Olusesi evaded all and found Aguda who only found the side of the net with a yawning goal at his mercy.
More opportunities for the host to take a commanding lead came but were fluffed away by the forward line on the ‘Flying Antelopes’ that had Ajani Ibrahim, Kelvin Itoya, Chiamaka Madu and Michael Uchebo lined up by coach Ogunbote.
The vastly travelled gaffer made four changes to the squad that lost 1-0 to Lobi Stars at the weekend in Makurdi and it was a much improved performance but the youthful backline of the visitors led by Benjamin Tanimu, Daniel Johnson, Sodje Stephen and Odinaka Edeh stood their ground.
With the match creeping to a stalemate, the reigning NFF/Aiteo Coach-of-the-Year, Olugbenga Ogunbote threw in Ogbuke into the fray and with few minutes on the pitch, collected a pass from Chiamaka Madu dribbled his way past two markers and chipped the ball past a stranded goalkeeper, Amas Obasogie into a yawning net to send the crowd into wild jubilations.
With this win, Rangers picked a ticket for the end of the season’ super-six championship with a haul of 37 points from twenty matches and will next engage Rivers United in a match day 21 encounter in Enugu for their last home encounter in the abridged season.
Coach Ogunbote said after the grudge encounter, “It was a great match that was very difficult because we failed to take most of the chances we created earlier in the game. No doubt, injuries to key players to a large extent worked against us as some of the fielded players were playing with one form of injury or the other.
We are very glad that the super-six ticket is in the bag we hope to give our last home match all the attention it deserves while believing that some of our injured players will be back by then and strengthen the team going into the end of season championship to challenge for the top spot.”
Felix Ogbuke, who is netting his second goal in three matches said, “ I am very happy to have scored again today. I only webt in to do what I was instructed by the coach to do and I thank God the goal gave us the victory we all deserved.”
RANGERS TEAM: Japhet Opubo, Tope Olusesi, Isaac Loute, Tony Shimaga, Pape Ousmane (Okey Odita -51st Min.), Semiu Liadi, Kelvin Itoya (Ifeanyi Egwim -46th Min.), Ajani Ibrahim, Michael Uchebo (Felix Ogbuke -72nd Min.), Chiamaka Madu, Godwin Aguda. SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Ugwuoke Ugochukwu, Ifeanyi Okoro, Akpos Adubi.
GOAL: Felix Ogbuke – 85th Minute.