It was a very bright and sterling performance from players of reigning Nigerian cup champions, Rangers International F.C of Enugu cruised past a well organized, Algerian side, USMBA to book a place in the 2nd 1/16th round of Total Confederation cup 2018/2019 season with a 2-0 spanking inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu, Sunday afternoon.
Pint sized, Bright Silas was the unlikely hero of the day as his brace was enough to seal a place in the next round of the second tier continental club competition as his quick reaction to a defense splitting pass from Chiamaka Madu, after some neat interchange of passes, bemused the backline of the opponents before dribbling past Adbelwahab Soufiane Khedairia to score on 8 minutes and send the large crowd at the stadium into hilarious mood.
Efforts by the trio of Ajani Ibrahim, Bright Silas and substitute, Pascal Seka was met with stiff resistance from the back line of the Algerian side as Khedairia was kept busy for most part of the half punching, blocking and parrying goal bound shots.
As the half was winding to a close, Silas surfaced again in a fox-like move to stab home his second for the day and his third in the competition as hesitant defending gifted him the opportunity to strike on 45 minutes.
Algerian shot stopper, Khedairia was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the early part of the second stanza as he steeled his nerves to beat out goal bound shots from Isaac Loute, Ajani Ibrahim and Pascal Seka in the first three minutes of the half to save the visitors some blushes.
There were appeals for a penalty call by the referee that was waved aside by the Senegalese arbiter as goal bound Ajani Ibrahim seem to have been upended inside the box as the match approached the last quarter while Seka Pascal missed a golden opportunity to etch his name on the scorers chat on 82 minutes as he shot wide with only the goalkeeper at his mercy.
There were more brave saves from the big shot stopper from the coastal city club, first an 84 minutes full stretch dive to push out a Chidera Ezeh’ thunderous shot while been alert to parry for a corner kick a left footed shot from two goals hero, Silas, to deny him a hat trick on 87 minutes.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote in a post match chat said, “It was a great game we had today against a very technically disciplined side. We give God all the glory and hope to keep working on the team till we get the perfect mix. We missed a lot of chances today which would have made the result more embarrassing for our opponent and it gave them the zeal to come at us in the dying moments of the game. Like I said at the start of last season, I hope to take the team to an appreciable position. Our sights are set for the finals of the competition. We fear no foe because to be a champion you have to beat champions.”
Nana Bonsu, the Ghanaian shot stopper for Rangers who has three clean sheets thus far in the competition said, “I thank God for the result. It can only be God that is taking the team to where we are going. Our opponents did well but we wanted the result more.”
Two goals hero, Bright Silas, said, “A good game by all members of the team and we thank God for the victory. It can get better as we continue in the competition.”
With the result, Rangers have qualified for the next round of the competition where their opponent will be known after the group stage draws is held on Friday, December 28, 2018 in Cairo, Egypt.
Rangers last won a continental trophy in 1977 after a 5-2 aggregate win over Cameroonian giants, Canon Sportive of Yaounde in the CAF Cup Winners Competition inside Ahmadu Ahidjo stadium, which ended 1-1 after the first leg in Nigeria ended 4-1 for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ with legends like Christian Chukwu (Mfr), Christian Madu, Alloysious Atuegbu, Emma Okala, Nnamdi Nwokocha, Chika Nwosu, etc all distinguishing themselves on that fateful December 14, 1977.