- as Ekweremadu salutes Club
By Duro Ikhazuagbe and Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Rangers International of Enugu defeated El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri 4-0 yesterday to equal Enyimba’s record seven Nigerian league title. The feat is the first in 32 years since the Flying Antelopes did in 1984 with Christian Chukwu as head coach.
However, the massive celebration of the vociferous Enugu fans was marred by the career-ending injury sustained by Ifeanyi Egwim whose leg got broken within four minutes he was introduced for Ocheme Edoh.
Rangers opening goal in the 3rd minute by Chisom egbuchulam. It came through a penalty after Orji’s kick was handled in the box by ELkanemi defender Abraham Audu.
The over 50,000 Enugu fans inside the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium aptly tagged The Cathedral erupted in celebration of Egbuchulam’s 14th goal of the season.
Obinna Nwobodo’s long range in the 26th minute almost caught ELkanemi’ keeper, Yekin unaware. Manage to parry into far right for a corner kick.
With ex Rangers like Chairman Christian Chukwu, Ben Ugwu, Kenneth Boardman, Davidson Owumi, Ndubusi Ajomiwe, Chinedu Ogbodo, Louis Igwilo and a host of others joining Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi drumming support for the Flying Antelopes, it was one afternoon of celebration at the Cathedral of footballing e Coal City.
In the 42nd minute Obinna Nwobodo set up Osas Okoro for Rangers second goal. With that assurance goal by Okoro, Rangers fans doubled the celebration of their first trophy in 32 years. Fireworks from the sky light the arena with others in Mexican wave that last several minutes.
Rangers returned to the final stanza with the same tempo they kicked off the final Match-day 38 of the 2015/2016 NPFL season.
In the 63rd minute, Egbuchulam added another to Rangers goals feast to make it 3-0 advantage for the Flying Antelopes. it was a one-on-one with Etim Matthew. It was also Egbuchulam’s 15th of the season. Nothing can now take away the cup from the grip of Rangers.
Rangers celebration of the league title was dampened by injury new Ifeanyi Egwim in the 89th minute. Though El Kanemi goalkeeper, was red carded television replay showed that the keeper was not responsible rather it was Egwim that twisted the leg when his boot stuck on the artificial turf.
The resultant penalty was scored by Egbuchulam complete his hat-trick and his 16th goal of the season and 56 points to the champions.
At the deep end of the league table, Warri Wolves join Ikorodu United as those relegated this season while the game between Plateau United and Heartland did not finish as the score stood at 1-1 as at the 75th minute.
MFM FC pulled off a 1-0 win over FC Ifeanyiubah to ease their relegation worries. Stanley Okorom fired in the winner 23 minutes into the game but both teams had players sent off. MFM’s Ifeanyi Ifeanyi was given the marching order on 33 minutes while FC Ifeanyiubah’s Kojo Baah saw red on 74 minutes.
Meanwhile, The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has showered praises on the team for their gallantry and clinching of the title.
Ekweremadu was at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to cheer the Flying Antelopes where he noted that Rangers had won something more than a league title for their teeming supporters across the world.
A highly elated Ekweremadu, who was in the company of the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, said: “I want to congratulate the players, the management of Rangers, and indeed the Government and good people of Enugu State on this emphatic victory and the reclaim of the league title after a 32-year wait full of disappointments.
“Those who know the history of Rangers understand why this great achievement will resonate across the length and breadth of the South East and South South especially, and indeed every part of the nation and the world where you find rangers fans.
“For us, this is more than just a league title. This is a huge revival, morale booster, and comfort. It is one great achievement that refreshes memories and our survival instincts as a people. It is a reminder to all our people that though sorrow may endure for a night, joy surely comes in the morning”.Senator Ekweremadu who described the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, as a jinx breaker, commended him for his fatherly support and encouragement, which spurred the team to victory.
He assured that Rangers’ successful defence of the league title and their continental campaign in the coming season would be the collective task of all.
While commending the improvements in the NPFL, the Deputy President of the Senate, however, called for more private sector support and greater commitment by the nation’s football managers to lift the round leather game higher in Nigeria.
FINAL LEAGUE TABLE
Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
Rangers 36 18 9 9 53 37 16 63
Rivers Utd 36 19 3 14 38 29 9 60
Wikki 36 16 9 11 45 28 17 57
Ifeanyiubah 36 16 8 12 37 33 4 56
Lobi Stars 36 16 7 13 41 35 6 55
Sunshine 36 14 11 11 44 37 7 53
Kano Pillars 36 15 7 14 47 40 7 52
El-Kanemi 36 16 3 17 37 42 -5 51
Enyimba 36 14 8 14 34 35 -1 50
Nasarawa Utd 36 16 2 18 41 43 -2 50
Tornadoes 36 15 4 17 40 42 -2 49
Plateau Utd 36 13 10 13 33 36 -3 49
Abia Warriors 36 12 12 12 35 39 -4 48
Akwa Utd 36 13 8 15 45 46 -1 47
3SC 36 14 5 17 41 48 -7 47
MFM FC 36 12 9 15 36 40 -4 45
Heartland 36 11 11 14 25 30 -5 45
Wolves 36 12 9 15 28 37 -9 45
Ikorodu Utd 36 7 11 18 32 55 -23 32
Giwa FC 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
NFPL FINAL DAY RESULTS
Plateau Utd 1 – 1 Heartland
Rangers 4 – 0 El-Kanemi
Wolves 1 – 0 Ikorodu Utd
Wikki 2 – 0 Sunshine
Abia Warriors 2 – 1 3SC
Akwa Utd 1 – 2 Rivers Utd
Lobi Stars 2 – 0 Nasarawa Utd
MFM FC 1 – 0 Ifeanyiubah
Kano Pillars 1 – 1 Tornadoes