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Rangers International storms Aba for Oriental derby against Heartland International FC

Posted : 23 March 2024

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The Enyimba stadium in the commercial city of Aba, Abia state, will take center stage in a matchday 27 fixture of the NPFL 2023/2024 season as the 'Flying Antelopes' Rangers International FC look to unsettle their neighbors, Heartland FC, for the maximum points at stake in an 'Oriental Derby'. The 'Naze Millionaires' opted to move the encounter away from Awka after receiving a late approval from the league organizers.

The match, scheduled to kick off at 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 24, 2024, will see the side coached by Fidelis Ilechukwu aiming to maintain their unbeaten run since the start of the second stanza of the season. The Coal City side has gone eight matches without a loss, winning six and drawing two, while conceding only two goals.

With players like Isaac Saviour, Kalu Nweke, and Kingsley Maduforo returning from injuries to join forces with others such as Godwin Obaje, Kazeem Ogunleye, Chiedozie Okorie, and Joel Odoh, there are high expectations for a positive result against Heartland FC. Heartland FC seems to have awakened from their slumber since the engagement of Chief Mike Idoko, which has seen them move out of the bottom of the 20-team log.

In the reverse fixture at the Awka City Stadium, which once served as the adopted home ground for the Coal City side, Rangers International FC emerged victorious with a 2-0 scoreline, with goals scored by Kazeem Ogunleye and Kenneth Igboke.

Speaking ahead of the encounter, Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said, "We respect Heartland for the quality they bring to the table, especially in games involving teams from the east. However, we have our job cut out and we have our game plans for the match, and I am positive going into the game. There is no room for underestimating the Owerri side, as football is what it is, and we shall approach the encounter with all the seriousness it deserves."

Also speaking, former captain of the Owerri side, who is now leading the 'Flying Antelopes' as they push for a strong finish to the season, Chukwudi Nwaodu, said, "Encounters between the two teams have never been easy, but I am optimistic that we will get a good result in Aba. This match will be more interesting as we have close to five of our former teammates who started the season with us now playing for the Owerri side. They will be coming to prove one or two points, but as I said earlier, we will approach the match with all due respect and aim for a good result to keep us in the hunt for a strong finish to the season."

Heading into this encounter, which will be the 28th top-flight match between both sides, the 'Flying Antelopes' have enjoyed 15 wins against eleven for the home side, while two have ended in draws. In the last home fixture against Rangers in the 2020/2021 season, the Salisu Yusuf-tutored Rangers secured a 3-0 victory inside the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.


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