Rangers subdue stubborn Remo in Testy NPFL Duel

A sublime free kick from about 25 meters taken by a substitute, Agu Kenechukwu, found its way past a stranded Bankole Kayode to nestle in the net on 56 minutes, which turned out to be the match-winner for the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International as they subdued a stubborn Remo Stars in a match day 22, NPFL 2023/2024 fixture.

The encounter which took place inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, Wednesday, February 28, 2024, had seen coach Fidelis Ilechukwu keeping faith with the starting squad that defeated Doma United in Gombe over the weekend. Still, a well-knitted defense line deployed by coach Daniel Ogunmodede ensured that the game failed to record a goal in the first stanza.

Chances came and went for the trio of Kazeem Ogunleye, Godwin Obaje, and Chidiebere Nwobodo. Still, the backline of the visitors led by Junior Nduka and Fabian Nworie gave a good cover to their goalkeeper and when it was spurned, Kayode Bankole was always alert to produce the needed save.

Coach Ilechukwu made two early substitutions in the second stanza which saw Agu Kenechukwu and Odoh Joel take the places of Zulkifilu Rabiu and Ugwueze Chinemerem and the visitors were pushed back into their defensive shells as the home side pushed for the much expected opening goal.

In one of his massy runs, dribbling past over three tackling legs, Chidiebere Nwobodo was fouled a few meters before the eighteen yeards box and the referee made the call that saw Agu Kenechukwu swing the ball past the wall of defense and into a yawning net to send the appreciative fans that came out for the encounter into wild celebrations.

Kayode Bankole had to bring out his best between the sticks to punch out another Kenechukwu Agu corner kick that was headed for the far corner at 66 minutes and another brave block to prevent Kenechukwu Agu’s free kick at 67 minutes just as Odoh Joel arrived a split second late to connect home a Chidiebere Nwobodo’ inch-perfect cross on 69 minutes.

There was an opportunity for the visitors on 74 minutes but Opubo Japhet made himself big to snuff out that opportunity as the crowd heaved a huge sigh of relief.

Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu in his post-match chat, said, “It was a great match we had today, and deservedly, we emerged the winner against a quality side like Remo Stars. They gave us a good fight but we knew what we wanted and went for it even when our first had much to be desired. Our substitutions did the magic for us just as the entire team fought a good fight for the maximum points. We keep working on our remaining matches with high optimism that we shall be rewarded at the end of the season.”

With the victory, Rangers move up the twenty-team log to place third with 37 points from 22 matches pending the results of matches slated for Thursday, February 29, 2024, and will at the weekend, trade tackles with Niger Tornadoes at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna in a match day 23 fixture.


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