NPFL: Is This Rangers Year? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NPFL: Is This Rangers Year?

Rangers players jubilating 4-0 bashing of Rivers United
Posted: Sep 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Steve Oma-Ofozor

Lagos – With four matches to wrap up the Nigeria Professional Football league (NPFL) the pendulum of victory is tilting towards Rangers International FC of Enugu. And everybody is asking if this could be the year for the Igbo victory song – nzogbu, nzogbu, enyimba, enyi.
The last time Rangers won the title was in 1984, 32 years ago.
The title dream began to manifest on Wednesday after Enyimba beat Wikki Tourist 2-1 in Port Harcourt in a rescheduled league match. Before the Wednesday encounter, Rangers had routed Rivers United at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu last Sunday 4-0. This victory catapulted Rangers to the top of the league table pending the outcome of the match between Enyimba and Wikki Tourists that would have tied on 54 points with Rangers had they beaten Enyimba in Port Harcourt. Wikki would have topped Rangers had they won because of their superior goals difference.
But this was not to be as Enyimba triumphed 2-1 to gift Rangers the league title lifeline.
However, will Rangers be able to withstand the pressure and win the league? While Rangers is on 54 points, Rivers United are in hot pursuit as they are placed second with 53 points While Wikki are placed third with 53 points.
With the three top teams- Rangers, Rivers United and Wikki Tourists- having four matches to play before the season ends, Rangers are in pole position to win the title considering their remaining opponents.
Rangers will play Sunshine Stars and El Kanemi Warriors at home, while Shooting Stars and Ikorodu United are their away matches left.
But the Enugu warlords must win their remaining home matches and at least win one away to guarantee success at the end of the season.
On the other hand, Rivers United have Warri Wolves and Abia Warriors to contend with at home before their remaining two away matches against Wikki Tourist and Akwa United.  Rivers have tough encounters since it will play another title contender, Wikki away. This match may decide where the league trophy will head towards at the end of the season.
Wikki will need to overcome Nasarawa United and Shooting Stars away and hope to win the two home matches against Rivers United and Sunshine Stars.
Before reaching this stage, Rangers have shown their commitment from the kick off of the season, having maintained a consistent position of first to four.
The Enugu State Government, owners of the club, had shown its commitment towards the club, financially and morally. In doing this, the government ensured that the team’s bench was not left to suffer after the sack of Kelechi Emeteole mid 2014/2015, as Imama Amapakabo, the assistant coach then, confirmed as the substantive coach.
“Nobody gave us a chance to be where we are at the beginning of the season,” Amapakabo said in an interviewwith
And after 4-0 mauling of Rivers United, he had this to say, “It was no doubt a massive win for us and we can now confidently say the title is within our reach.
“We now have four tough fixtures ahead of us before the end of the season and I’m sure we are equal to the task.
“This is the time for us to end the title drought as we have laboured so hard since the start of the campaign.
“I hope we will get our reward by winning the title at the end of the day.”
Foster Chime, Rangers Director of Media said that to ensure that Rangers win the title, Festus Onuh, the club’s board chairman upped the players winning bonus from N300,000 to N500,000, taking effect from the last Sunday’s tie against Rivers United that it won 4-0.
Founded in 1970 at the end of the Nigerian civil war, Rangers alongside Heartland of Owerri were the only Nigeria top flight clubs yet to taste relegation; Rangers have won the NPFL a record six times – 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1984; the Federation Cup five times – 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1983 and the African Cup Winners’ Cup (now CAF Cup) once in 1977.
The Enugu club has also produced household names in the likes Emmanuel Okala, Christian Chukwu (now the Technical Consultant), Late Aloysius Atuegbu and Ifeanyi Onyedika.
One can also remember the recent Rangers ex-stars as Michael Emenalo, now at Chelsea of England, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Onyekachi Apam, Edward Ofere, Joseph Enakarhire just to mention a few.