NPFL:RANGERS SHOCKED IN LEAGUE OPENER BY ABIA WARRIORS

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The hopes of the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C to start the 2023 NPFL abridged league on a good note was nipped in the bud as visiting Abia Warriors F.C ran away with a healthy 2-0 win in a match day 1, Group B, fixture.

The encounter that took place inside Awka City Stadium on Sunday, saw coach Erasmus Onuh tutored side score two late goals in each half to silence the appreciable crowd that turned up for the match.

Rangers started the encounter on a high and would have shot into an early lead but for the sharp reflexes of goalkeeper, Femi Thomas who made himself big to deny Elijah Ani on three minutes.Despite dominating the first quarter hour of the encounter, there was no goal to show for their effort just as the visitors gradually came into the game with their crisp passes that drew applause from the stands and when it seem that both sides would retire to their dressing rooms on even note for the break, lone striker, Bello Lukeman nodded home an inch-perfect Kalu Nweke’ cross on 42 minutes.

The host started the second stanza as they did the first and created three opportunities in the 47, 49, and 50th minute but Femi Thomas was at his best to deny all that was thrown at his post and when Austin Onyemaechi and all in the stands thought that the experienced shot-stopper had been beaten for the equalizer on 61 minutes, his effort crashed against the upright and bounced off for a goal kick.

More opportunities came for both sides to score but thrice the host hit the upright just as the visitors had the effort to hit the crossbar before grabbing the second goal deep into the second half added-on time to run away with a famous victory reminiscent of the 2-1 win the Umuahia side recorded on January 15, 2017, in the 2016/17 NPFL season.

Chief coach of Rangers, Mbwas Mangut said after the encounter, “This was not the result we worked for but that is football for you.

We hope to quickly overcome this huge setback and get back on the winning ways.

”Rangers will next be the quest of Lobi Stars at their adopted home ground, New Jos Stadium, Jos in a match day 2 fixture on Wednesday, January 18, 2023.

NORBERT OKOLIE

Media/Communication OfficerRangers International F.C, Enugu.

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