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2023/2024 NPFL Match Day 30: Our best not enough, says Abia Warriors' coach Orji

Posted : 18 April 2024

The head coach of Abia Warriors, Bethel Oji, in his reaction to the 2-3 loss to Rangers International FC of Enugu, said that the team had tried its best and they deserve better.

The Coach said that his team threw everything at the league leaders during the Oriental derby but things did not work out as planned.

Recall that Abia Warriors lost the Oriental bragging rights after going down 3-2 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.

The Matchday 30 encounter of the Nigeria Premier Football League lived up to its hype as the game was intriguing and entertaining.

Rangers got off to a flying start when Saviour Isaac put them ahead in the 9th minute from a well-taken freekick.

Rangers pressed for a second goal amidst cheers from the Enugu spectators, and they would have doubled their lead a minute later when the center referee awarded them a contentious spot kick that baffled even the home supporters. But Godwin Obaje missed, to the delight of the visitors.

As the game progressed, the Warriors started getting into their rhythm, all they needed at this point was to get their passes in the final third right.

A glimpse of what they could do when they truly settle in a game was displayed in the 40th minute when a well-orchestrated string of passes ends with a through ball to Sunday Megwo inside Rangers' vital area, but he went for goal from a tight angle instead of squaring to his on-rushing strike partner Samson Obi and Adejoh Ojonugwa.

Nonetheless, the birthday boy made amends in the second minute of added time when he connected beautifully with a flying header from Meme's cross to level the scores.

That goal was the last action of the first half and it heralded an exciting second.

Within two minutes of resumption of play, Rangers were 2-1 up; the referee awarded the home side a freekick at the edge of Warriors' box and Kazeem Ogunleye's curling effort evaded everyone to settle in the net for Rangers' second goal.

A mix-up between substitute Collins Nwoburuoke, who had earlier replaced Ifeanyi Anaemena, and Prince Okorie in the 70th minute allowed Rangers' Chidozie Okorie to chip the ball over Warriors' keeper, Sharp Uzoigwe, for the Flying Antelopes' third goal.

Two minutes later, Coach Bethel Oji threw in Enugu boy, Paschal Nwabueze, and Antoine Desouza, and it was the former who made an instant impact.

Paschal used his pace to his advantage, running from the right side of Rangers' defense, holding off his marker in the process, but as he was cutting into Rangers' box, he was kicked by his marker, but the youngster refused to fall and still raced into the home side's box; the referee inexplicably blew his whistle and brought the ball back for a freekick to Abia Warriors near the opponents' byline.

It was one of the numerous wrong calls from the center referee -- Akan Udoette.

Nwabueze still did not back down and went ahead to reduce the deficit in the second minute of added time.

A string of impressive passes by the Warriors saw Ojonugwa Adejoh release a through pass to Paschal Nwabueze who slammed the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-2.

The goal produced a nervy moment for the Flying Antelopes and their home supporters, and it literally buoyed the visitors to go all out for an equalizer, unfortunately, the center referee blew the final whistle in 90+3 to bring proceedings to a close, whereas, the fourth official had signaled for four minutes added time.


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