A lone strike from substitute, Elijah Ani, on 70 minutes was all the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C needed to send visiting Katsina United back to base empty-handed and keep alive hopes of picking a continental ticket at the end of the season.
The match day 36 fixture which took place inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu, Wednesday, saw the coach Salisu Yusuf tutored side take the game to their opponent as soon as FIFA badge referee, Elaigwu Hannah signaled start of hostilities.
Ibrahim Olawoyin, Ugochukwu Ugwuoke and Chiamaka Madu were dictating the pace from the offensive midfield position just as Tony Shimaga did well in covering every space in the defensive midfield position to ensure that Rasheed Ahmed and Samuel Kalu did not function well in their attacking position for the visitors.
The attacking duo of Christian Nnaji and Chinonso Eziekwe did their best upfront but goalkeeper, Kassaly Dauda for the visitors’ was the reason the visitors did not concede a goal going into the break as he did well to beat out an Ibrahim Olawoyin’ stinging shot from the edge of the box on 7 minutes just as he made himself big enough to scare away Eziekwe on 17 minutes in a one-on-one situation while chances on 25 and 32 minutes also went begging for the host.
In the second stanza, Rangers gaffer, the duo of Elijah Ani and Shedrack Asiegbu for Eziekwe and Ugwuoke which further pushed back the visitors into their defensive shells and on 68 minutes, Christian Nnaji thought he had scored his eleventh goal of the season after been fed by an Elijah’ defense splitting pass but his effort was chopped out for offside position of play.
Two minutes later, the power playing forward rose majestically to nod home an Ibrahim Olawoyin’ inch-perfect cross past a sranded Kassaly to send the home bench into frenzy and two minutes later, Elijah missed an opportunity to grab a brace as his header off a Chiamaka Madu’ free-kick missed target by few inches.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was a tough game as the visitors did not allow us to play our usual free flowing game especially in the first half but the substitutions we made really helped us to get the win. We keep hope alive as anything can still happen in the last two matches where we have six points to play for. We remain positive till the end of the season.”
Coach Sadoki Bishi of Katsina United said after the match, “We came with a plan to win the game but our plan was halted in the process as the home team used kicking game against us. That is football, we lost today and tomorrow we can smile home and we are going to uplift our game for the three points.”
Elijah Ani said, “I am very happy for the goal scored and for the three points it fetched our team. I hope to do more in coming games.”
Felix Ogbuke who played the last quarter of an hour of the match, said after the fixture, “It was a very difficult match we had against Katsina United and I thank the coaches for selecting me for the game. I hope to keep doing well in training to be selected to do much of what I love doing on the field. I believe we can still get something at the end of the season.”
With the win, Rangers maintain their 7th position on the 20 team log with 59 points from 36 matches and will be trading tackles with high-flying, Nasarawa United in a match day 37 fixture on Sunday, August 1, 2021 at the Lafia city stadium.
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