It was a vantage performance from the wards of coach Salisu Yusuf of Rangers International F.C in a match day 8, NPFL 2020/2021 fixture as Dakkada F.C of Uyo came, saw and was conquered by three un-replied goals at ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu.
With a clear intent to win its ardent fans back after the weekend’ loss in Akure, coach Salisu made four changes to the match day 7 starting squad handing the trio of goalkeeper Femi Thomas, Esor Achibong and Femi Ajayi their first start of the season while Ebuka Franklin after seating out six match days on the bench.
As early as the tenth minute, the host had shown its intent for the match with beautiful combination play from Godspower Aniefiok, Chiamaka Madu and Esor Achibong holding sway in the middle of the pack while reigning top goal scorer, Israel Abia and Femi Ajayi were probing the rearguard of the visitors ceaselessly but goalkeeper, Oremade Olawale was at his best to prevent early goals rain.
Abia did found a way past the towering goal tender on 25 minutes as he connected well with his head a Tope Olusesi’ curly free kick while Esor’ stinging shot on 32 minutes after some neat interchange of passes was pushed out from target by the impressive shot stopper of the visitors.
With few minutes to the end of the first half, Rangers gaffer, brought in Christian Nnaji and Ugochukwu Ugwuoke for tiring Femi Ajayi and Esor Achibong to add more bite upfront and what a rewarding substitution it turned out to be as just four minutes into the second half, Nnaji reacted well to convert a neat pass from Godspower Aniefiok after he had earlier before the break, missed a golden opportunity off a pass from Abia Isreal on the stroke of half time.
Goalkeeper, Oremade was the reason the game failed to recored another goal till the 89th minute when Nnaji was set free with a Kenechukwu Agu’ quick restart to score his second goal of the day and Rangers’ third as the shot stopper blocked, parried, dived to stop over three goal bound efforts by Abia Israel, Chinonso Eziekwe and Shedrack Asiegbu.
In his reaction after the encounter, coach Salisu said, “It was a good game that would have had us score more goals against a very good side. Femi and Esor had a very good thirty minutes but were overwhelmed by the pace of the match and had to be replaced and the substitutions were effective. This is the kind of reaction we needed after the weekend’ result. We shall continue to build on the positives of this game in subsequent matches.”
Two-goal hero, Christian Nnaji said, “I am happy for my goals today and I dedicate it to the entire team who have been supportive since I joined Rangers. I also thank God for the win and hope to continue to do my best in future matches. I believe I can hit the double figure of goals when the season ends.”
Rangers will at the weekend, play host to Warri Wolves in a match day 9, NPFL 2020/2021 fixture inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium with all the Covid-19 protocols expected to be observed as the directives for games to be played under close door remains.
RANGERS TEAM: Femi Thomas, Tope Olusesi, Ernest Governor, Tony Shimaga, Uche John, Ebuka Franklin, Godspower Aniefiok (Kenechukwu Agu -83rd Min.), Chiamaka Madu (Shedrack Asiegbu -76th Min.), Esor Achibong (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -43rd Min.), Israel Abia (Chinonso Eziekwe -76th Min.), Femi Ajayi (Christian Nnaji -43rd Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Seidu Mutawakilu, Osas Okoro, Isaac Loute, Chidiebere Nwobodo.
GOALS: Israel Abia -25th Minute, Christian Nnaji – 49th & 89th Minutes.