Rangers International F.C, the ‘Flying Antelopes’, have been crowned the champions of Enugu state Aiteo cup for the 2020/2021 season after a hard-fought 1-0 win over former state league champions, Ingas F.C of New-Haven in the final match played inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Smarting from the 4-1 spanking handed visiting Sunshine Stars in a matchday 27, NPFL 2020/21 fixture, coach Salisu Yusuf lined up a strong matchday starting squad that had Senegalese, Pape Ousmane Sane and Uche John anchoring the backline while Femi Ajayi and Chidiebere Nwobodo led the attack with Benin Republic international, Charles Tiesso anchoring the middle of the pack.
Despite dominating proceedings in the opening half of the encounter, the 2018 national Aiteo cup champions could not transform their dominance into goal as Ifeanyi Ogbonna and Valentine Ogbodo provided enough coverage for goalkeeper Igweokoro Onyedika for the state amateur side.
With injury induced changes to his starting squad that saw Tiesso and Eliagwu limp out for Christian Madu and Daniel Vendaga by the half-hour mark, it remained a matter of when the goals gate would open as the armature side defended in their numbers leaving lone striker, Chiedozie Okorie with much work to do against the experienced backline of Rangers.
Substitute, Chiamaka Madu steeled his nerves to convert from the spot on 75 minutes after Vendaga was upended in the box as his trickery runs and dribbles confused the opponent’s backline.
Coach Salisu described the win as a good omen for his side going forward as anything otherwise would have been counterproductive stressing, “It was good we won the trophy as no trophy is small. Remember that it is from this small one that you stand to challenge for the much bigger one. The game was highly interesting as our opponents gave us a good challenge but we stood our ground. We continue to work on the team until our set target for the season is achieved.”
Coach Kingsley Obiekwu, former Super Eagles and Olympic gold medalist, who led Ingas to the final match, said, “We did our best but it was not good enough. Rangers showed maturity and that was what made the difference. We hope to return next year, better.”
With the win, Rangers will represent Enugu state to challenge for the national trophy it has won six times for a chance to represent the country in next season’ CAF Confederation cup.