BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – With only two matches to play, Rangers International Football Club of Enugu has confirmed their spot as one of the top four sides that will feature in the Super Six play-off series
The Flying Antelopes on Wednesday consolidated their leadership position in the Group A of Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with a 1-0 victory over age-long rivals Bendel Insurance FC of Benin.
Striker Felix Ogbuke delivered the match’s winning strike in the 85th minute to gift Rangers victory and established their readiness for the Super Six tournament.
Ogbuke’s effort, which neatly evaded the bodies that massed in the Insurance box to nestle in the net, sent Rangers’ fans into wild jubilation at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium, popularly nicknamed: ‘The Cathedral’
The late goal from the in-form striker, who came on as a substitute, gave Rangers an early berth in the season-ending tournament that will decide eventual Champions of the Nigerian Premier League this year.
An elated Rangers manager, Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote, who spoke after the encounter, admitted that the match was difficult for his team.
According to him, the Benin visitors are a desperate bunch seeking to escape relegation and therefore threw everything they had into the encounter.
Coach Ogunbote said with their sight on victory for improved standing on the league table, the Insurers made the game tight and quite difficult for Rangers to execute according to plan.
The Rangers’ gaffer told Sports Writers in an interview that; “Though, we missed lots of chances, Insurance really worked for the three points but thank God we have the day.
“Ogbuke is a super star and has again shown that today by bailing the club from a difficult situation.”
He said with the three points that have made their position secured for the Super Four tournament, the Enugu side will now rest its injured players to enable them recuperate well and be ready for the next round of battle.
“Today, we have couple of newly injured players like Pape Ousmane and Ajani Ibrahim that have joined the list.
“I was scared when the match was heading to full time without any goal to show for our efforts. You know, when we played them in Benin, we lost because we played most part of the match with 10 players.
“Here now, what do we tell our supporters as the game is open with 11 against 11. So this victory is a very big relief for us,” Ogunbote said.
The match hero, Ogbuke, said he was excited scoring the only goal of the day. “Am happy that my goal come when we needed it most; and today’s victory has given us firm balance at the top three of the group A.
“Before now, I was not playing because of some family challenges and now I am back and I want to continue scoring for my club.
“I am fulfilled being a Rangers player and it is my dream to win laurels for the club in the ongoing season,” the striker volunteered.
Currently, Rangers are leading the Group A pack with 37 points from 20 matches, with Lobi Stars FC in second place with 30 points after 19 matches while Enyimba International FC of Aba are placed third position with 29 points from 19 matches. In fourth position with the same 29 points as Enyimba are MFM FC of Lagos. But the Lagosians’ points haul comes from 20 matches having played one match more than the People’s Elephant. – With agency reports