Rangers International F.C, Sunday evening at the ‘Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, threw away the opportunity of catching up with the pace setters in the current season as visiting Akwa United, held the ‘Flying Antelopes’ to a pulsating goalless draw in the match day 21 fixture.
The seven time league champions were on the back foot as soon as the match got underway as the visitors took the initiative going forward but their attempts upfront was half hearted as Rangers backline soaked up the pressures from lone ranger, Ifeanyi Edeh.
It was only at the quarter hour mark that Rangers forward spackled to life with former Super Eagle, Onyedika Ogbuke taking the defenders of the visiting team on some soccer lessons with his manoeuvres and sleek dribbles that were not complemented by his team mates as the pitch suddenly became slippery.
Actions in the game were played out in the middle of the pack as both teams held forth in that department of the game and it took a 35th minute curly effort from Ogbuke in a dead ball situation for Emmanuel Iwu who was between the sticks for the visitors to be called to duty.
Two minutes later Iwu made what can pass for the save of the day as he stretched full length to beat out a Godwin Aguda’ firm shot that was sailing to the far end of the net after some neat interchange of passes released him at the edge of the box.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote introduced the trio of Kelvin Itoya, Ajani Ibrahim and Jonathan Richard for Chidera Eze, Godwin Aguda and Christian Pyagbara at various stages in the second period but the visitors defence line led by Jamiu Alimi, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu and Dennis Nya did not bulge to the incessant attacks from the host to hold out for a remarkable draw in Enugu.
With this draw, Rangers remain on 6th position with thirty points from twenty-one matches and will next trade tackles with table topping, Lobi Stars F.C who forced a home defeat down the throat of the Enugu side in a match day 2 fixture fully aware that only a favourable result will put them back on track towards realising its target for the season.
Coach Ogunbote of Rangers said after the match, “This was another avoidable draw. We could have finished the job in the first half but we could not take the chances we created. I understand the feelings of the fans and our dear supporters. We hope to make positive amends in our next games.”
Akwa United chief coach, Aliyu Zubairu, said, “We came here with a plan to get all three points but we are happy with the one we got. It will continue to get better. Rangers gave us a good fight but we were determined not to lose.”
RANGERS TEAM: Femi Thomas, Chidera Eze (Kelvin Itoya -52nd Min.), Isaac Loute, Christian Madu, Okey Odita, Tope Olusesi, Godwin Aguda (Ajani Ibrahim -74th Min.), Christian Pyagbara (Jonathan Richard -82nd Min.), Solomon Okpako, Felix Ogbuke. SUBS NOT USED: Seidu Mutawakilu, Adun Osamudiamwen, Adubi Akpos, Salau Ibrahim.
AKWA UNITED TEAM: Emmanuel Iwu, Etim Mathew, Gabriel Wassa, Dennis Nya, Ariwachukwu Emmanuel, Jamiu Alimi Paul Obata (Chigozie Chilechukwu -61st Min.),Cyril Olisema, Ifeanyi Edeh (Gabriel Okechukwu -90th Min.), Christopher Lolo, Victor Mbaoma. SUBS NOT USED: Ojo Olorunleke, Otobong Effiong, Godspower Igudia, Ayobami Asekunowo.
REFEREE: Shuaib Abdullahi – Katsina.