Rangers storm Aba for “Oriental Derby” with Heartland

The Enyimba stadium in the commercial city of Aba, Abia state will take center stage in a match day 27, NPFL 2023/2024 fixture as the ‘Flying Antelopes’ Rangers International F.C look to unsettle neighbors, Heartland F.C for the maximum points at stake in an ‘Oriental Derby’ as the ‘Naze Millionaires’ opted to take the encounter away from Awka after a late approval from the league organizers.

The encounter billed to kick off by 4:00 pm on Sunday, March 24, 2024, will see the coach Fidelis Ilechukwu tutored side looking to keep their unbeaten run since the start of the second stanza of the season that has seen the Coal City side go eight matches without blemish, winning six and ending two in a draw while conceding only two goals.

With the likes of Isaac Saviour, Kalu Nweke, and Kingsley Maduforo returning from injuries to join forces with such players as Godwin Obaje, Kazeem Ogunleye, Chiedozie Okorie and Joel Odoh, there are high expectations for a good result against Heartland F.C that seem to have woken up from their slumber, since the engagement of chief Mike Idoko, that has seen them move out of the basement of the twenty team log.

In the reverse fixture at the Awka City Stadium, which once served as the adopted home ground for the Coal City side, it ended 2-0 for the seven-time league champions with the duo of Kazeem Ogunleye and Kenneth Igboke scoring the goals.

Speaking ahead of the encounter, Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu said, “We respect Heartland for the quality that they bring to the table especially when it’s in a game involving teams from the east. However, we have our job cut out and we have our game plans for the match and I am positive going into the match. There is no room for underrating the Owerri side as football is what it is and we shall take the encounter with all the seriousness it deserves.”

Also speaking, former skipper of the Owerri side who is now leading the ‘Flying Antelopes’ as they push for a good finish to the season, Chukwudi Nwaodu, said, “Anytime, any day, encounters between the two teams have never been easy but I am optimistic that we shall get a good result in Aba. This tie will be more interesting as we have close to five of our former teammates who started the season with us now appearing for the Owerri side. They will be coming to prove one or two points but as I said earlier, we shall approach the match with all due respect and work out a good result to keep us in the hunt for a good finish to the season.”

Going into this encounter which will be the twenty-eight top-flight action between both sides, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ are enjoying 15 wins against eleven for the home side while two have ended in a draw. The last time Heartland engaged Rangers in a home fixture in the 2020/2021 season, the Salisu Yusuf tutored Rangers ran away with a 3-0 victory inside Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.


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