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Amapakabo Riding On The Crest Of History

Enugu Rangers
Posted: Sep 23, 2016 at 9:54 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu

Barring any upset and ill-luck, Enugu Rangers will end their 32-year-wait for major silverware with the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) title at the end of the current league season. The Flying Antelopes last won the domestic league in 1984.

But sitting pretty first on the NPFL table with 57 points from 34 matches, the former champions look poised to end the long wait for a title with two rounds of matches to go in the ongoing campaign.

Right from the beginning of the season, Rangers have shown consistency and have topped the league table more than any of the other two contenders – Rivers United of Port Harcourt and Wikki Tourists of Bauchi.

The Flying Antelopes are above Rivers United and Wikki Tourists on the table with one and three points respectively.

But all these could not have been possible without the input of one man. Imama Amapakabo, the Rangers manager, has shown that he has what it takes to thread on where giants navigated and slipped.

He once likened his career in football both as a player and a coach to a calling. Since Rangers’ last triumph in 1984, so many coaches have managed the famous club to repeat the feat to no avail.

For instance, after Polish Janusz Kowalik won Rangers’ last league title in 1984, coaches like Serbian Kosta Papic, Okey Emordi, Christian Chukwu, Alphonsus Dike, among others have severally attempted to win to no avail.

The situation was so bad that Rangers supporters believed that there was more to the development than meets the eyes, with some linking the winless streak to voodoo.

Incidentally, Rangers and Heartland of Owerri remain the only clubs in the Nigerian domestic league yet to be relegated

But with Amapakabo in the saddle, all that is about to be changed with the Flying Antelopes needing to win their two remaining matches against Ikorodu United in Abeokuta on Sunday and a final tie against El-Kanemi Warriors in Enugu in a week time.

Born on July 29, 1969, Amapakabo was a member of the victorious Golden Eaglets of 1985, who won Nigeria’s first FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Before accepting to coach Rangers, Amapakabo had spent greater part of his coaching career managing his state-owned club, defunct Sharks FC of Port Harcourt and thereafter coached Enyimba of Aba.

After winning the cadet trophy in 1985, Amakapabo played for Sharks and a couple of other local clubs before venturing into coaching.