It was honors shared in the NPFL 2022/2023 Abridged season’ ending cracker at the Awka City Stadium as defending league champions, Rivers United came from a goal down to earn a share of the spoils against Rangers International F.C on Sunday, May 21, 2023.
Coach Abdul Maikaba of Rangers had kept faith with the squad that earned a massive 3-0 win over Wikki Tourists except for Naziru Auwalu who was out injured and his place was taken by Samuel Pam who made his start count.
The home side settled quicker into their game with the midfield trio of Chinemerem Ugwueze, Esor Achibong, and Samuel Pam establishing their authority in the middle of the pack and as early as the second minute, had cracked the defense line of the visitors but as Godwin Obaje advanced to pull the trigger, he was fouled at the edge of the box but the free kick was wasted.
Austin Onyemaechi and Chidiebere Nwobodo were menacing from the flanks and in one of his surging runs, Nwobodo breezed past his marker to deliver the through-pass that Pam latched onto to score the opening goal of the match at the quarter-hour mark.
On the other end, Detan Ogundare had to be alert to comfortably curdle a Morice Chukwu’s long-range effort in 35 minutes as the home side ended the first half on the driver’s seat.
An injury to Esor Achibong who was domineering in the midfield close to the end of the first stanza saw the introduction of Saidu Adamu as the second half commenced with the home side still probing for more openings but it was the visitors that got rewarded with the equalizer on 50 minutes when Chidiebube Duru’ well struck free kick nestled in the top corner of the net.
Efforts from both sides to score more goals failed to materialize as stout defending from the visitor’s backline and splendid goalkeeping from Victor Sochima shut out all that was thrown at them while Kenneth Igboke made a goal-line clearance late into the fixture to deny the visitors what would have been a calamitous own-goal that would have been the second for the visitors.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the encounter, “Actually, we are supposed to have won this game in the first half. We created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities earlier in the game but we did not utilize them and against the run of play, through a set piece, Rivers got their equalizer. It’s part of it in football. So, I believe that the team has tried even when this was not what we planned for at the start of the season.”
With the draw, Rangers end the abridged season, Group B with 21 points from 18 matches scoring 16 goals and conceding the same number to place 8th on the log and will shift attention to the Federation Cup 2023 with a Round of 16 fixtures against NNL side, F.C Ebedei of Ekiti scheduled for the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
RANGERS TEAM: Detan Ogundare, Innocent Gabriel, Kenneth Igboke, Chinemerem Ugwueze, Uche John, Ebuka Anthony, Chidiebere Nwobodo, Esor Achibong (Saidu Adamu -46th Min.), Joshua Obaje (Leonard Ugochukwu -58th Min.), Samuel Pam (Ejike Uzoenyi -58th Min.), Austin Onyemaechi (Kingsley Maduforo -75th Min.). UNUSED SUBS: Nana Bonsu, David Chimezie, Philip Clement, Chukwuebuka Okorie, Shedrack Asiegbu.
GOAL: Samuel Pam- 15th Minute.
Rangers International F.C, Enugu.
Facebook Page: Rangers International F.C of Enugu