It was a dominant display from the wards of Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu of Rangers International F.C in a match day 9, NPFL 2023/2024 fixture inside a packed Awka City Stadium against a dodged Katsina United side denied the ‘Flying Antelopes’ the maximum points that would have taken them to the zenith of the twenty team log.
Coach Ilechukwu had the same squad that picked a valuable 2-2 draw in Akure on the last match day, save for Japhet Opubo, who is nursing a slight injury, and the team did not take much time to settle into its stride against the visitors who sat back and defended in droves after waves of attack led by Godwin Obaje and Chidiebere Nwobodo.
In the first five minutes of the game, goalkeeper, Kolimba Alladoum had made three brilliant saves off Godwin Obaje, Isaac Saviour, and Chukwudi Nwaodu as the expectant fans yelled for more.
Tried as they did, the host found it hard to break down the defense line of the visitors as the quartet of Chinedu Ozor, Christopher Madaki, Lawrence Edward and Stephen Egbe did all they could to ensure that they did not concede as Rangers continued the search for goals with long-range efforts from David Chimezie and Isaac Saviour missing targets by a few inches.
Kazeem Ogunleye’s drilled free kick from about 25 yards also missed the target on the stroke of halftime as both sides retired to the dressing room on equal terms.
Despite personnel change that saw the introduction of the trio of Jonas Emmanuel, Austin Onyemaechi and Joel Okoro for Godwin Obaje, Kazeem Ogunleye and Chukwudi Nwaodu by the coaching crew, there was still way of breaking the stiff resistance of the ‘Chanji Boys’ as they sat back to defend and made one incursion upfront in a counter-attack move that brought out the best from Detan Ogundare who was between the sticks for Rangers to push out the goal-bound effort on 82 minutes to the relief of most fans at the stadium and the bench of the home side.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said after the barren draw, “I think we gave our best on the day and we tried to push, did all we can, but in football, some days are like that. I may say that we were not lucky today. It was a painful result because this was a game we prepared and played to win but our opponents did well in containing us all through the match. We have to put this result behind us and prepare hard for our next game which is another ‘Oriental Derby’.”
Coach Bashir Saduki who led the Katsina state side to Awka said, “I am very happy for the boys, myself and the team for the away draw. It is essential to reach our set target for the season. We came to pick all the points at stake but are happy with the one point we got.”
Rangers now occupy the 5th spot on the log with fifteen points from nine matches as Doma United currently leads the pack with seventeen points.