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2023/2024 NPFL Match Day 28: Rangers International FC humbles Sunshine Stars FC in Enugu

Posted : 04 April 2024

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The "Flying Antelopes," Rangers International F.C, produced one of their finest games of the season but could not convert the avalanche of opportunities created in the 2-0 win over visiting Sunshine Stars FC of Akure on matchday 28 of the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) 2023/2024 fixture played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.

Kalu Nweke and Ifeanyi Onyebuchi were the goal scorers for the team coached by Fidelis Ilechukwu, who have gone unbeaten for 10 matches in the league. With this result, they maintain their stay at the top of the 20-team standings.

The home side did not hide its desire to secure the victory from the start, as the coach stuck with the starting squad that secured a road win over Heartland in the last match, except for one change, with Naziru Auwalu replacing Zulkifilu Rabiu.

There was a penalty shout as early as the second minute when a defense-splitting pass from Kalu Uche found Godwin Obaje, who dribbled past Chidozie Iwundu only to be tripped by the stray foot of Love Isaac Emmanuel inside the box. However, the referee instead awarded a goal kick, disappointing the home bench and relieving the visiting bench.

The midfield quartet of Isaac Saviour, Kazeem Ogunleye, Naziru Auwalu, and Ejike Ugochukwu were too much to handle for the visitors' defense, ably led by 2013 AFCON champion Godfrey Oboabona. However, goalkeeper Ishola Abdulateef stood like a solid rock, punching, parrying, and blocking out almost everything thrown at him.

With six minutes left in the first half, defender Austin Opara embarked on a mazy run, ghosting past a sea of tackling and challenging legs to find himself in the opponent’s box. At the risk of losing the ball, he backheeled it to a well-placed Saviour Isaac, whose fierce shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper, only for Kalu Nweke to stab home the opening goal.

Defender Ifeanyi Onyebuchi scored his second goal of the season and the second of the match in the 71st minute when he was given much space by the Sunshine Stars' defenders, who failed to clear Kalu Nweke's corner kick.

Substitute Chiedozie Okorie had two great opportunities to extend the goal haul for his side, but could not convert, just as Godwin Obaje failed to capitalize on an inviting cross from Saviour Isaac as the referee ended proceedings.

Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said, "I think it was a one-sided game. We dominated our opponents in both the first and second halves. We created a lot of chances, but unfortunately, we could not convert all of them. It's very disappointing. I'm not happy about that. I expected today's game to end with us winning by as much as 5-0, but that's football for you. Sometimes it happens like that, and we keep working on these lapses to ensure we capitalize on the chances we create."

With this result, Rangers continue to occupy the top position in the 20-team standings with 51 points from 28 matches. They will next travel to Katsina to face Katsina United in a matchday 29 fixture on Sunday, April 7, 2024.


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