NPFL Matchday 19: Rangers Defeat Lobi Stars 5-3 In New Stadium In Awka

NPFL Matchday 19: Rangers Defeat Lobi Stars 5-3 In New Stadium In Awka

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By Vitus Michael

Seven-time Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL champions, Rangers International FC of Enugu on Saturday signed out the first stanza of the season on high after they defeated Lobi Stars 5-3 in a thrilling eight-goal clash in Anambra, can report.

It was the first match of the Flying Antelopes in their newly adopted new home Awka City Stadium, Anambra State.

Former Lobi Stars’ striker, Ossy Martins, true to his earlier boast before the encounter grabbed a brace in a fixture that was characterized by errors of judgment from both ends while the youngest player to ever captain Rangers in a match, Kenechukwu Agu also helped himself to a brace.

The home side threatened as early as the 3rd minute of the encounter when speed star, Chidiebere Nwobodo left his marker for the dead but his cross failed to find the feet of any teammate as the visitors successfully snuffed out the threat.

Agu opened the flood gates of goals in this eight-goals thriller on eleven minutes from the spot as he expertly converted after Ossy Martins was fouled inside the box by Ifeanyi Ogba earlier while Martins benefitted from two errors by the visitors on 22 and 45+2 minutes, first as he was fed by Austin Ogunye whose back pass was intercepted at the edge of the box and fired home beyond Stanley Nwabali whose diagonal pass across the face of his goal failed to reach its destination as Chukwuebuka Okorie nodded for a free Martins to roll into a yawning net.

Chidiebere Nwobodo continued the destruction work of Lobi Stars as soon as both sides came back for the second stanza after he was released by Okorie on the right to outpace his marker and blasted a left-footed shot past the legs of Nwabali on 47 minutes.

The visitors took the fight to their host’ area and in one of his mesmerizing dribbling runs, Azeez Shobowale was adjudged to have been fouled inside the box by Ifeanyi Nweke and Raphael Ayagwa did well to send Seidu Mutawakilu the wrong way from the spot on 56 minutes and at the hour mark, Ebedebiri Endurance rose the highest to connect home a Samuel Gande’ well-taken free-kick.

Kenechukwu Agu restored the three goals cushion on 74 minutes after he was set on goal by Elijah Ani for Rangers’ fifth of the day but a determined Lobi Stars fought back gamely and two minutes later were rewarded with their third goal as Douglas Achiv was allowed enough space to jump the highest to connect home a Raphael Ayagwa’ well-struck free-kick from the edge of the box.

Efforts for more goals failed to materialize as the goalkeepers became wiser to stop efforts aimed at their post as Elijah Ani’ shot on 90 minutes was bravely stopped by substitute, Onyia Emeka.

Coach Abdul Maikaba in a post-match chat said, “It was the result we wanted but not the scoreline we anticipated especially with regards to our defense that have been our strongest going into this fixture. We are taking the positives from this encounter and working on the noticed lapses before the start of the second round. The pitch to a very large extent helped both teams to enjoy good football and I hope that pitches around the country would be upgraded to help our players give their best at all times.”

Rangers maintain its 3rd position on the twenty- team log with 34 points from nineteen matches and will be making a road trip to Makurdi at the start of the second round after a two-weeks break sanctioned by the league organizers.

With the other week 19 matches skated to concluded this Sunday across venues, the 2022 NPFL will proceed on a two-week hiatus to resume on April 3rd.

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