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Rangers Int'l FC pull plug on Lobi Stars at Cathedral

Posted : 18 March 2024

A goal in each half by the seven-time Nigeria League champions, Rangers International F.C, ensured that the coach Fidelis Ilechukwu-tutored side stopped the high-riding and table-topping Lobi Stars with a 2-1 scoreline in a Match Day 26 NPFL 2023/2024 fixture at ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.

Coach Ilechukwu had a full complement of his well-rested regulars who missed the trip to Kano for the last match day, and it was the home side that quickly settled into their strides with the duo of Odoh Joel and Godwin Obaje causing troubles for the Lobi Stars backline as the game progressed.

The visitor’s goalkeeper was the reason why the game did not record a goal until the 40th minute, as he was alert to punch out, block, and parry all balls aimed at his goal. Even when he was beaten on 11 minutes, the ball cannoned off the back of Obaje and onto safety.

In the 37th minute, the Lobi goalkeeper fouled a goal-bound Ugwueze Chinemerem, and the referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot despite protests from the bulky shot stopper and his teammates. When the dust settled, Godwin Obaje expertly stroked the ball past the diving Lucky Abdullahi on 40 minutes for the opening goal of the encounter, sending the large crowd of fans at the stadium into wild jubilations.

Whatever instructions were given by coach Ilechukwu at the interval in the locker-room were quickly put into practice. Kingsley Maduforo, who was returning to the starting team after a while, calmly volleyed home the second goal of the day for the home side just three minutes after the re-start, sparking celebrations.

Stunned as they were, the coach Eugene Agagbe-tutored side made quick substitutions to try and contain the raids of the home side, and in one of their forays upfront, substitute Samuel Tiza was allowed too much time and space by the Rangers backline to produce a spectacular volley that kissed the net on 66 minutes to reduce the deficit.

Efforts from both sides to convert many scoring opportunities that came their way, with the hosts being more profligate in front of goal, failed to materialize as the referee brought proceedings to an end. The Coal City side inches further up the log onto the second spot with 45 points from 26 matches and is on an eight-match unbeaten run.

Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said, “It was a great fight from both sides, but we did our best, which I believe gave us the victory we really worked for, and we thank God for that.

``It was a high-pressure game against one of the best teams in Nigeria, and considering their position on the log, it shows that Rangers is coming up gradually, and I am very happy about this win.”

Rangers will next take on Heartland in an ‘Oriental Derby’ at the Awka City Stadium in a match day 27 fixture on Sunday, March 24, 2024.


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