… demolished 1-3 in Enugu by Pyramids of Egypt
Matchday 1 of the CAF Confederation Cup group stage encounters ended in disgrace for players of Enugu Rangers International FC who were last night trounced 3-1 by visiting Pyramids FC of Egypt at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Stadium.
The match featured four officials from Djibouti, with Suleiman Ahmed as the centre referee.
Rangers apparently abandoned its usual graceful play that it started with at the blast of the whistle and resorted to physical challenges that earned them two penalties and a red card.
The visitors gladly converted the penalties to goals and scored one more to seal their exploits on the field of play.
In addition to the red card and penalties, Rangers also earned three yellow cards in a match that their opponents did not receive a single booking.
The gate of Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium was declared free-entry by the Enugu State Government, provoking a massive turnout of supporters who, however, left the stadium in despair after the match as Rangers recorded its fourth straight loss in their local and continental campaigns.
The spectators enjoyed a beautiful first half with Rangers in scintillating passes, mounting a sustained pressure to their opponents half.
The visitors were forced to rush to the defense as pressure from Rangers mounted. This, however, did not help them as striker Ibrahim Olawoyin was able to dribble past a wall of defenders to draw first blood for Rangers at 28 minutes.
Tragedy however struck at the Enugu side at the tail end of the half when Rangers Captain, Tope Olusesi, was given a red card in the 44th minute for tackling Pyramid’s winger, Mohamad Salama, from behind.
Olusesi had earlier earned a yellow in the 6th minute for rough play.
The red card to the Captain and subsequent conversion of the resulting kick by Mohammed Farouk appeared to have deflated the confidence of Rangers’ players.
The visitors thereafter tormented hapless Rangers and earned a clean goal in the 83rd minute when an outstanding Eslam Eissa laid a through pass for Amor Layouni to double the score.
Rangers’ misery was completed four minutes later when goalkeeper Japhet Opubor fouled Pyramid’s Eric Troure. Eissa wasted no time in converting the resulting penalty kick as well.
This high-margin loss for Rangers on home soil has come as a baptism of fire for new Coach Sanisu Yusuf, drafted last week by the Nigerian Football Federation to assist the Club overcome its technical challenges.
Yusuf however claimed at the post-match interview that he is happy with the match and with Rangers’ new style of play.
“We have had three training sessions with the players since I joined them and I am happy (because) from what I saw in the match, there is improvement from what I met on ground,” he said.
Asked if he will be with Rangers in Nigeria Professional Football League, he said, “I am on secondment to Rangers as of now, until when my employer decides on when to withdraw my services.”
Ugwu Uwadiegwu who inherited the Captain’s badge when Olusesi was shown door pleaded with Team supporters to “give Rangers players some time to bounce back from these trying times”.
Rangers will fly to Alexandria, Egypt on Sunday, 8 December to meet another Egyptian club side, Al Masry in Matchday 2 of the CAF Confederation Cup group stage.