Dauda Madaki’ curly shot inside the box on 70 minutes off an Ibrahim Olawoyin’ weighted pass turned out to be the match winner as Rangers International F.C continued their upward push in the NPFL 2019/2020 season after squeezing past Jigawa Golden Stars 1-0 in a rescheduled M.D 7 fixture.
Rangers gaffer, Salisu Yusuf made five changes to the starting squad that earned a priceless goalless draw in Uyo at the weekend and the hunger for goals was evidenced as the quartet of Ibrahim Olawoyin, Israel Abia, Dauda Madaki and Kenechukwu Agu combined well upfront but the visitors defended well to ward off the early raids.
Coach of the visiting side, Gilbert Opana, expertly deployed his wards in a 3-5-2 formation that soaked all that was thrown at them with lone ranger upfront, Stone Samuel having little to do against Rangers duo of Uche John and Anthony Franklin in the heart of the defense.
The first stanza came and went with only a few shots on target by the host despite dominating play but coach Salisu made early substitution in the second half that saw Ikechukwu Ibenegbu make way for Chinonso Eziekwe on 52 minutes to push the visitors further back into their defensive shells.
With the game looking to end on a barren note, Uche John’ long kick from defense found Eziekwe whose massy runs gave him much room to locate ‘Fox in the box’, Olawoyin who outran two markers to lay perfectly for Madaki to curl home beyond a diving Paul Danjuma for the only goal of the encounter to send the fans into wild celebrations.
Israel Abia and Chinoso Eziekwe both came close to adding their names on the score sheet within a space of two minutes after the opener but Danjuma did well to parry out Chinonso’ connecting header off an Osas Okoro’ corner kick on 71 minutes while Abia watched in awe as his shot that was heading into the bottom corner was clutched by the pint-sized shot stopper on 72 minutes.
Assistant coach of Rangers, Mbwas Mangut said after the encounter, “We thank God for the victory as Jigawa proved a very tough nut to crack but our resilience and determination to win gave us the edge. We hope to keep working on the team even with injuries to some key players, we believe we shall deliver the goods as the season continues.”
Coach Gilbert Opana, who is just two weeks with the Dutse based outfit said, “It was a good match from both sides that was determined by a single mistake which is inevitable in the game of football. My boys played well. The two teams are coming from behind and none wanted to give anything away in the fight to leave the uncomfortable position. Escaping relegation is a must for me and my team and I have no doubt we will escape.”
Rangers will next, play host to Akwa United in a M.D 20 fixture inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium on Sunday, February 16, 2020 with the match slated to kickoff by 4.00pm.