NPFL 2019 PLAY-OFFS: Enyimba 1-0 Rangers International
By Olisa Chukwumah
Nigeria Info Sport
Enyimba got their play-off campaign to a winning start after a 1-0 win over Rangers Int’l in an Oriental derby at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.
Joseph Osadiaye grabbed the winner for the People’s Elephant in the 49th minute after being put through by Ibrahim Mustapha.
Enyimba had earlier hit wood-work in the first half when Ikechukwu Ibenegbu’s curled free-kick struck the cross-bar, prompting Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu to parry away the ball for a corner on the rebound.
The Enyimba defense looked untroubled for the much of the game and Rangers’ best chance fell to Former Super Eagles striker Michael Uchebo, but his tame header inside the box following a cross only made for an easy catch for Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai.
Uchebo also had moments in the second half where he tied-up Godwin Aguda and provided Ifeanyi George with a cushioned header both players fired well wide on their attempts.
The match which was uneventful for long spells also had frequent stops and starts with injuries to players on both sides and several of them needing treatment and taking-off on the stretcher.
But it was Enyimba who finished third in group A during the season that held on to secure the vital three points against the first-place finishers Rangers Int’l in their first match of the play-offs.
Enyimba coach Usman Abdallah said: “With Rangers there’s always a history behind the game.” He also gave his thoughts on the rivalry between both teams in the Oriental derby, adding that “this play-off will give us the opportunity to settle the score.”
“We’re coming out to win and grab the six points so that we can have a comfortable lead.”
But Rangers manager Gbenga Ogunbote termed his team’s defeat to Enyimba as a “temporary setback.”
“We have played the first game, everybody is aware that the next four games are important. We’ll do our best to make sure that we have a balance in the team.”
Enyimba will on Thursday take on Kano Pillars who had entertaining 2-2 draw with Akwa United in the second game played on Tuesday at the Agege Stadium. And Lobi Stars beat Ifeanyi Ubah 3-1, with Samad Kadiri grabbing a brace.