Football

Rangers set for crunch cracker against Akwa United

Former Nigerian multiple league and continental champions, Rangers International F.C of Enugu will Sunday, May 13, 2018 trade tackles with Aiteo Cup holders, Akwa United, with their minds set at crushing whatever resistance the Uyo side would be bringing to the table in the Match Day 21 NPFL 2017/2018 fixture.
The fact that the Coal City ‘Flying Antelopes’ are seven points adrift of table topping Lobi Stars of Makurdi who has a game in hand and occupying the sixth position going into this fixture, motivates the coach Olugbenga Ogunbote’ wards to go for the maximum points at stake.
Another fact that is worthy of note which is also pushing the Okey Odita captained side to push as hard as they can to annex all three points at stake in the season opening day 2-0 loss at the magnificent Godswill Akpabio International stadium, Uyo, where a Kelly Kester and Dennis Nya efforts in the 39 and 65 minutes set the Enugu side on a worst possible start in a season.
Going into this fixture, both sides have acquired the services of some fresh legs to bolster their charge for the league diadem with the host’ securing the services of former Super Eagles duo, Uche Nwofor and Ugonna Uzochukwu as well as Christian Pyagbara who joins from the Uyo side with other youthful and enterprising talents from within, while the visitors can also boast of such players as former Barcelona youth team player, Ezekiel Bassey and Ifeanyi Edeh, Ayo Asekunowo and Jamiu Alimi.
Chief coach of the visiting side, Aliyu Zubair who is taking charge of the ‘Promise Keepers’ in the absence of technical adviser, Abdul Maikaba, who is on national assignment with the male U-20, said after supervising a rigorous pre-match training session inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, “We know Rangers is a very good side and we have prepared very well for them and we are here to take the three maximum points available. I really don’t think that our participation in continental matches will in any way aid our performance on Sunday as we are already out of that competition. Surely, we will miss the absence of our T.A as his presence in matches mean a lot but we have to work in his absence and get the result we desire in Enugu.”
Technical Adviser of Rangers, Olugbenga Ogunbote, after his side’ last training session, Friday, said, “We are expecting a very good game from Akwa United but we have what it takes to grind out the result we need. We have our target and as soon as we click into the next gear, the better for us to realise our target.”
Both sides are coming into this encounter having drawn their last games in Jos and Uyo with Akwa been forced to a 1-1 draw in a rescheduled match against reigning league champions, Plateau United while Rangers kept their form on the road intact with a 1-1 draw against Wikki Tourists at their adopted home ground.
Former youth international, Christian Pyagbara who might be handed his second start for the Enugu side against his former employers after a distinguished display in his first, said, “I thank God for giving me this opportunity to defend the colours of Rangers and I hope to make it count. Yes, I shall be confronting my old team mates for more than a year and that makes it more interesting as me and my new team mates have a job to do which must be done. By God’ grace, it will be sweet victory for us.”
Five goals hero in Enugu state Aiteo cup game played on Tuesday said of the coming game, “Ireally thank God for the goals I scored against El-Nahag but the real job will continue against Akwa United on Sunday. My target is to help my team reclaim the trophy we lost to Plateau United while a double digit of goals would be the icing on the cake for me. Akwa parade a very good squad but I believe that we are a better team and it will show on Sunday.”

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