Enugu Rangers International left Nnewi at the weekend to move to the brand-new Awka City Stadium. They shot down Lobi Stars 5-3 in the facility built by immediate past Governor Willie Obiano.
Rangers tried Awka for luck this Saturday, 19 March, and struck gold in the Stadium’s first-ever professional match.
It was a historical outing with two braces scored by Rangers’ duo of Ossy Martins and Kenechukwu Agu.
A total of eight (8) goals whizzed into the nets of both teams, with Rangers having the lion share of five goals scored.
Kenechukwu Agu scored the first professional goal in the stadium through a penalty at the 10th minute. He converted the kick after Lobi defenders brought down striker Ossy Martins in the box.
Then followed two normal goals scored by Ossy Martins himself in the 22nd and 45th minutes of play.
Ossy consequently booked his name in history as first player to score a brace in the Awka City Stadium. Both his goals were scored as a result of poor communication among Lobi defenders and their Goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali.
Nwabali was punished for straying too far out from his duty post. He was subsequently replaced.
The second brace came when Kenechukwu Agu came one-on-one with the newly changed Goalkeeper, Onyia Emeka in 79th minutes. He was beautifully set up to score by Elijah Ani.
Chidiebere Nwobodo also recorded his name on the score sheet for Rangers in the 47th minute.
Lobi Stars woke up from their sleep when Ifeanyi Nweke fouled Shobala Azeez in the Rangers box. Ayagwa Raphael was quick to send Rangers Goalkeeper, Seidu Mutawakilu to the wrong side in 57th minutes of play with his penalty.
J Akhabue and Achiv Douglas also meandered in to shake Rangers’ net following defensive lapses.
Rangers Coach Happy
Rangers Technical Adviser, Abdu Maikaba, was happy with the result and with the pitch.
“Actually, the result I expected was three points and I had it. But the way we conceded was not what I wanted.
“All the same, we will go back to drawing board and work on some grey areas.
“Last time, I told you that it is our good defense that kept us in this position. Now we worked to keep a balance.
“We worked on attackers and their finishing; that’s why we for the first time scored five goals in the League.
Going forward to attack opened our defense, but we are going to work on it in future”.
Asked whether the pitch contributed to the victory, he quickly agreed.
“You can see that every body enjoyed their football today. This pitch is not only good for my team but good for football to everyone.
I believe the two teams have shown that this pitch is good”.
A Welcome Relief
The Anambra State Government Stadium constructed by ex-Governor Willie Obiano came as a welcome relief to the Flying Antelopes.
Rangers Management quickly adopted the Stadium as a new home and applied for a change of home ground.
The League Management Company (LMC) inspected and approved the change last week Tuesday, 15 March.
Rangers has been shopping for a home ground following shutdown of its Nnamdi Azikiwe International stadium. The stadium, known to Rangers’ fans as “The Cathedral” is undergoing renovation.
The FC Ifeanyi Uba Stadium in Ozubulu Road, in Nnewi, proved to be challenging because of its bad playing pitch.
Since the season started, Rangers lost 10 points because of the poorNnewi pitch, according to Coach Abdu Maikaba.
In Other Matches…
Result from other centres in NPFL, week 19 are;
- Rivers United 4-1 Akwa United
- Plateau United 2-0 Sunshine Stars
- Wikki Tourists 0-0 Enyimba FC
- Remo Stars 3-0 Kwara United
- Kano Pillars 3-1 Gombe United
- Abia Warriors 2-2 Katsina United
- Heartland FC 0-0 MFM FC
- Dakkada FC 2-1 Niger Tornadoes
- Shooting Stars 1-0 Nasarawa United.
Meanwhile, the League Management Company has announced a 2-week break at the end of this first stanza.
Next Rangers match will be in Makurdi against Lobi Stars on 3 April, 2022.
Rangers move to new Awka City Stadium