Rangers are back in the continental cup competition range after beating Heartland 3-1 in the oriental derby of Matchday 27 of the 2021/22 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). Their main challengers for that third spot on the table – Remo Stars – found themselves on the losing end at the Okigwe Township Stadium where Abia Warriors scored two goals and kept a clean sheet.
Enugu Rangers head coach, Abdu Maikaba is pleased with the response of his players who came from a goal down at the Awka City Stadium to defeat Heartland, and complete a season double over the Naze Millionaires.
The Flying Antelopes were on the back foot as early as the 13th minute after an error from David Chimezie gifted Heartland’s Monday Yakubu the chance to get the better of goalkeeper, Seidu Mutawakilu.
But Rangers fought back gamely and were on level terms eight minutes later through Ossy Martins who reacted fastest to fire a rebound beyond the reach of Femi Thomas, who had spilled Chidiebere Nwobodo’s audacious long range effort.
Rangers would get the second and third goals through Shedrack Asiegbu and Eso Achibong in the 40th and 91st minutes of the game.
Maikaba told www.npfl.ng that he was not angry at his players for gifting Heartland the lead but praised them for reacting well afterwards.
He pointed out that the players made his day with the way they stuck to the game plan and reacted after they went behind in the game.
“Sometimes you may not get it right in a game and you make an early mistake in a game of this magnitude. The ability to rectify your mistake as quickly as possible is what matters. It is the hallmark of a good team”, Maikaba said after the win.
“I am happy that the players were not unfazed by the early goal. They kept calm even after conceding a goal and they kept creating chances. They lost some and were able to score some. And at the end, we got a home win”, he further said.
With continental spots still up for grabs and the race for the third spot currently a tug of war between Rangers and Remo Stars, Maikaba noted that they would be approaching their next league game with the Remo Stars with all seriousness to ensure they pick a positive result at Ikenne-Remo.
In Okigwe, Abia Warriors had to wait till the 61st minute to break the resolve of Remo Stars with a goal by Yakub Hammed.
Valentine Odoh sealed victory 10 minutes from the end to confirm Abia Warriors’ revenge after losing the first leg by a lone goal.
The result pushed the Warriors to No 12 on the log, subject to the outcomes of the games involving Niger Tornadoes in 12th and Nasarawa United in 13th positions.
So far, 261 matches have been played with 198 won; 175 of them by home teams, 23 away wins, 63 drawn games and 498 goals scored.
The rest of the statistics:
Average Goals/Match: 2
Total No of Goals Scored at Home: 369
Total No of Goals Scored Away: 129
Total No of Goals Scored by Penalty: 41
Total No of Penalties not Scored: 9
Total No of Penalties Awarded: 50
Total No of Own Goals: 9
Highest Goal Scorer: Rafiu Ishaq 15 goals (Rivers United)
Total No of Yellow Cards: 988
Total No of Red Cards: 33
Best Attacking Team: Rivers United (40 goals) Worst Defensive Team: Dakkada (37 goals conceded)
Sunday’s games: Gombe United v Sunshine Stars, Shooting Stars v Niger Tornadoes, Kano Pillars v Kwara United, Rivers United v MFM, Lobi Stars v Katsina United, Akwa United v Enyimba, Wikki Tourists v Dakkada FC, Nasarawa United v Plateau United (all 4 pm)
Saturday results: Rangers 3-1 Heartland, Abia Warriors 2-0 Remo Stars
Reports by League Management Company