NPFL MD16: Enugu Rangers Escape Relegation After Thrashing Wikki Tourists In Awka
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By Amaechi Agbo
Rangers International FC of Enugu on Sunday were assured of keeping their Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL league status following a comprehensive 3-0 spanking of Wikki Tourists of Bauchi in Akwa.
The “Flying Antelopes” who have been struggling throughout the abridged league, found their mojo against Wikki after drawing their last two games.
The win takes them to 7th in Group B with 19 points from 16 matches. It’s Rangers’ only 4th victory in sixteen matches in the league.
The 19 points put them 7 ahead of 9th placed Dakkada FC and 10 points above Bottom placed Wikki Tourists who have 9 points with two matches left to play in the league.
Saturday match was a must win for both teams but it was Rangers who showed grit as they scored two goals in the second half and consolidated it with the 3rd in the restart.
The coach Abdul Maikaba tutored side left nobody in doubt of its intention in the game as the attacking trio of Godwin Obaje, Chidiebere Nwobodo, who grabbed a brace in the encounter, and Austin Onyemaechi went on the offensive as soon as the referee signaled the start of hostilities.
As early as the 6th minute of play, fans had risen to celebrate Obaje’s connecting header off Esor Achibong’s corner kick but his effort crashed on the cross-bar and bounced safely for the Wikki short stopper to make an easy catch.
Despite dominating proceedings, the home side waited for nearly half an hour to break the resistance of the visiting ‘Big Elephants’ when Chidiebere Nwobodo jumped the highest to connect home an Esor Achibong’ well-struck corner kick on 27 minutes.
On 52 minutes, Nwobodo scored his second of the day as he was supplied the ammunition by Auwalu Naziru who had dispossessed an opponent of the ball while substitute, Samuel Pam stabbed home the third goal on 86 minutes just as Obaje missed a seater on 65 and the assistant referee chalked off what would have been a third goal for Nwobodo on 72 minutes for a possible offside.
At the tail end of the fixture, Detan Ogundare produced two quick saves in the added time to ensure his side kept a clean slate.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the encounter, “It was a good game and a good result that we worked for even as we can’t take away the effect of the promise of cash reward by the Youth & Sports Commissioner on the players. Our opponent showed resistance but we wanted the result more and pushed for it and got it. I am happy even when the result will not help us challenge for the top three positions, it will give us the boost to go very far in the Federation Cup 2023.”
Two-goal hero, Chidiebere Nwobodo said, “I am happy for the two goals I scored and I thank my teammates for their support. Before the match I had promised to score and to God be the glory, I scored twice and hope to continue in coming matches.”
Rangers will next travel to the Pantami Stadium, Gombe for a match day 17 fixture against Doma United on May 7, 2023.
Rangers International FC of Enugu are the only club in the history of the Nigeria Premier Football League since 1972 never to have gone on relegation.
The safety of the club in the league is a relief for the gaffer, Abdul Maikaba who has come under severe criticism following the unimpressive performances of the club in the current season.