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Rangers International FC in cloud 9 after 8th league title

Posted : 18 June 2024

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The 'Flying Antelopes', Rangers International F.C of Enugu, are now on cloud 9 after securing their 8th league title with one round of matches to spare in the 2023/2024 NPFL season.


This came as the Flying Antelopes defeated the 'Benin Arsenals', Bendel Insurance F.C, 2-0 in a capacity-filled Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, where Enugu state governor, Barr. (Dr.) Peter Mbah, was live in the stands.


With results from other match venues seeing other title contenders falter, coach Fidelis Ilechukwu's boys went into the last round of matches with a healthy five-point gap over the closest competitors.


Coach Ilechukwu included seven starters from the midweek loss in Ibadan in the starting squad against perennial rivals from the Benin Kingdom. They welcomed back Ifeanyi Onyebuchi and Godwin Obaje, while Isaac Saviour and Kazeem Ogunleye were also given starting roles. They did not disappoint as the visitors were pushed back into their defensive shells early in the encounter.


The visitors had goalkeeper and captain, Amas Obasogie, to thank for his heroics between the sticks, denying the home side a goal despite its dominance in the first half. However, he could do little to stop Kenechukwu Agu's well-measured free kick from over thirty meters out, which nestled into the net on 32 minutes, sending the capacity crowd into wild celebrations.


Philip Clement almost doubled the lead for the Coal City lads with a powerful 35-meter strike that Obasogie did well to push over the bar for a harmless corner kick. Chidiebere Nwobodo, who was influential over Monday Odigie's side, had two golden opportunities well defended as both sides retired for halftime.


At the start of the second half, the visitors improved their game and emerged from their defensive stance with Divine Nwachukwu, Evans Ogbonda, and Chisom Okereke pulling the strings. However, they met a well-marshaled defense from the hosts anchored by Ifeanyi Onyebuchi, Philip Clement, Ikenna Stephen, and Opara Austin.


In a counter-attacking move, Divine Nwachukwu missed a golden opportunity to level the scores for his side. Chidiebere Nwobodo, who shone brightly throughout the match, was released by Isaac Saviour and cleverly chipped the onrushing Obasogie for the second goal on 65 minutes, sparking celebrations among the fans.


Substitutes Kingsley Maduforo and Okorie Chiedozie also came close to scoring but were denied largely due to the expertise of Obasogie in the Insurance goal.


Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu commented in a post-match interview, "It was a great game against a big side like Insurance, but we stuck to our game plan and got the goals that have brought us to the brink of being crowned Nigeria league champions for the 2023/2024 season.


"With results from other centers, I am confident we have done enough to secure the league title. We are approaching the last match of the season against Gombe United. We will remain focused and work hard, trusting that God will guide us to our desired goals."


With this victory, Rangers have amassed a total of 67 points from 37 matches with a +22 goal difference going into the final league match of the season against already relegated Gombe United at the New Jos Stadium in 'Tin City' on Sunday, June 23, 2024.


The league trophy, medals, and financial rewards are expected to be presented to the Enugu side at the end of the match, with many football stakeholders anticipated to witness the epic presentations.

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