By Fisayo Dairo
It was a good Saturday for two Oriental rivals Heartland and Rangers International as both sides enjoyed identical wins to climb up the 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) ladder.
In the first two matches of Match Day 17 decided on Saturday, Heartland hosted Niger Tornadoes at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri while Rangers International were at their adopted home ground in Nnewi to welcome Gombe United. Both games ended 1-0 in favour of the hosting sides.
In Owerri, Jonas Emmanuel’s long range effort in the 11th minute proved sufficient to earn Erasmus Onu another home win as Heartland coach as they continue their impressive race to beat the dreaded drop.
The win took Heartland’s point tally to 19 points from 17 games, a return which takes them out of the relegation zone for the first time since Match Day 7. Heartland are now 14th (pending the determination of Sunday’s games) with Tornadoes dropping to the relegation zone in their stead.
In the upper rungs of the table, Rangers International moved back to 3rd at least for the next 24 hours after a laboured 1-0 win over Gombe United.
In-form winger Chidiebere Nwobodo scored the game’s only goal in the 49th minute off a Chukwuebuka Okorie. The goal was Nwobodo’s 4th of the campaign and took Rangers’ points return to 28, seven adrift of league leaders Rivers United who play on Sunday.
Eight other matches will be decided in various centres on Sunday including the South-West derby between Remo Stars and Sunshine Stars in Ikenne and Kano Pillars’ grudge affair with Nasarawa United in Katsina
Heartland FC 1-0 Niger Tornadoes
Rangers International 1-0 Gombe United
MFM FC vs Kwara Utd
Remo Stars Vs Sunshine Stars
Dakkada Vs Enyimba
Plateau United Vs Katsina United
Wikki Tourists Vs Lobi Stars
Abia Warriors Vs Akwa United
Rivers United Vs Shooting Stars
Kano Pillars Vs Nasarawa United
Story and photo: Courtesy: NPFL