The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International F.C were at their ruthless best, Friday, January 21, 2022, as they practically demolished neighbors, Heartland F.C 3-0 in a match day 7, NPFL 2021/2022 season fixture inside Dan Anyiam stadium, Owerri.
Heartland led by former Rangers player, coach Hassan Abdallah, looked to have settled quicker into the game as the referee started the encounter with Jonas Emmanuel, Chibuike Nwaiwu, Chijioke Mbaoma and Chukwudi Nwaodu pulling the strings but their dominance could not be transformed into real threat as the visitor’ backline soaked up all that was thrown at them.
Ossy Martins was presented with the first real opportunity in the match as Ejike Uzoenyi’ defense splitting pass found him unmarked on 5 minutes but his shot went wide off target but former Gateway F.C’ attacking midfielder, Julius Ikechukwu, shot the visitors ahead on 25 minutes when substitute, Chidiebere Nwobodo’ inviting cross evaded the backline of the host and fell for him to stab home past a stranded Godwin Paul.
Second half substitutes, Christian Nnaji and Shedrack Asiegbu made the victory sweeter for the coach Abdul Maikaba tutored side on 54 and 84 minutes even when the host were reduced by a man after Jimoh Gbadamosi was sent off for two cautions at the hour mark.
Nnaji robbed his challenger, Sunday Chinedu of the ball from the left flank to release a curling shot that Godwin Paul had no answer to while Asiegbu steeled his nerves to blast home after the goalkeeper had parried a Chidiebere Nwobodo’ effort onto his part.
More opportunities came the way of Elijah Ani, Shedrack Asiegbu and Christian Nnaji to make the result more embarrassing for the host but goalkeeper, Godwin Paul did well to curtail the harvest of goals in the dying moments of the match.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the massive win, “I really don’t know how to express myself this evening but it was a wonderful result. We came to win quite well but we even got it so easier. 3-0 is a massive win and I salute my boys for a job well done. I believe Heartland is a very good team only that it seems they lack motivation. They did their best but when we scored the third goal, they had to surrender with the red card they got.”
FIFA World cup star and Afcon 2013 winner, Ejike Uzoenyi who had his first start of the season for the visitors, said, “It was a very good encounter. This is the Igbo El-Classico if I must say. We were the better side. We are honored to have had this massive win. We wanted it more as we prepared very well and I think we deserved the victory. However, you can’t take it away from them despite the loss. Heartland is a very big club, we have respect for them, but I feel they did not just come to the party today.”
Rangers with the win-now occupy the 3rd position on the log with fourteen points from seven matches and will next take on table topping Remo Stars F.C at their adopted home ground, F.C Ifeanyiubah stadium, Nnewi on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
RANGERS TEAM: Bamidele Adeniyi, Tope Olusesi, Bala Akintunde, Charles Tiesso (Ugwuoke Ugochukwu -73rd Min.), Ernest Governor, Ebuka Anthony, Ejike Uzoenyi (Chidiebere Nwobodo -23rd Min.), Julius Ikechukwu (Christian Nnaji -51st Min.), Seidu Adamu (Shedrack Asiegbu -73rd Min.), Agu Kenechukwu, Ossy Martins (Elijah Ani – 73rd Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Seidu Mutawakilu, Samuel Pam, Uche John, Ifeanyi Nweke.