A break in defensive communication by the backline of Rangers International F.C gifted the ‘Pride of Rivers’, Rivers United the bragging rights in the opening fixture of the ‘Flying Antelopes’ in the 2020/2021 NPFL season as they host smiled away with a lone goal victory.
It was former Rangers attacking sensation, Fortune Omoniwari who drove in the only goal on 28 minutes after he was left unmarked to run onto a Godwin Aguda’ cross over the face of the goal in the highly combative encounter that saw the home side fetching for themselves, seven yellow cards and a red card. Earlier in the game that had FIFA badge referee, Quadri Adebinpe had hardly started when the host were gifted an opportunity as Agu Kenechukwu lost the ball in the middle of the pack and gifted Aguda the chance to lay on for Omoniwari who inexplicably shot wide with Nana Bonsu beaten on 3 minutes.
Rangers midfield quartet of Chiamaka Madu, Kenechukwu Agu, Ugwuoke Ugochukwu and Tony Shimaga soon found their rhythm and pushed back the host with some neat interchange of passes that drew applause from the few fans that found their way into the Adokiye Amiasiamaka stadium but the back line of the host stood their ground.
Abia Israel had an opportunity to draw his side level on 38 minutes but Theophilus Afelokhai, who was between the sticks did well to deny his effort while it was Bonsu’ turn to make himself big to deny Kehinde Adedipe effort at the other end and Ugochukwu Ugwuoke watched in awe as his drilled effort missed target by a few inches on 40 minutes.
The second half witnessed a much improved play as coach Salisu Yusuf made some changes to his playing personnel but the bravery of Afelokhai ensured that the visitors did not get to celebrate any goal from some of the clear chances created as he parried, blocked and punched all that was thrown at his side.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was a very tough match in which we gave away a very cheap goal. We did better in the second half and deserve to have something from the match. We leave here with some positives that we shall work on for our next game.”
Nigerian born, Benin International, Isaac Loute said after the crunch encounter, “We did not get the result we came here for. However, we leave with our heads held high as we played a good game and would have left with at least a draw. I congratulate Rivers for their win.”
Captain of the side, Tope Olusesi, said, “This was not the result we wanted or worked for but we are leaving with a resolve to make this our last loss in the season.”