By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Ibrahim Ajani’s lone strike in the 40th minute was all Rangers International FC needed yesterday to defeat Enyimba FC 1-0 to win the Oriental Derby in Enugu on Match-Day 5 of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
The Cathedral (as the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium is known to Rangers and their legion of supporters) erupted in wild celebration when Ajani smashed in Ifeanyi George’s cross.
However, Flying Antelopes’ celebration was almost marred by the red card given to Bobby Clement for a second bookable offence in the 87th minute of the explosive encounter.
Elsewhere in Port Harcourt, Rivers United continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-0 victory over MFM FC.
Luckless MFM Captain, Austine Opara, diverted the ball into his own net after Wasiu Jimoh’s dangerous cross caused havoc in the penalty area.
The first half failed to hit expected heights with clear-cut goal scoring opportunities few and far between.The hosts stepped on the accelerator in the second half and got due reward on the hour.
Bendel Insurance’s return to topflight ended in another away goalless draw against Niger Tornadoes.
Niger Tornadoes Coach, Bernard Ogbe, refused to come out for the second half of the game claiming his life was at risk.
In Bauchi, Sunshine Stars recorded their first win of the season defeating Wikki Tourist 1-0. The defeat was Wikki Tourist’s second straight loss following their 1-0 defeat away to Katsina United in the midweek clash.
Chibundu Amah fired in a rebound shot from close range after Wikki Tourist goalkeeper Pius Ibrahim parried Sunday Abe’s spot-kick onto his path.
In Makurdi, Nigeria’s representative in the CAF Champions League, Lobi Stars recorded their first win of the NPFL season in style smashing Kwara United 3-0. Michael Stephen scored in the 10th minute before Yaya Kone struck in the 29th and 34th minute to put the game beyond reach for Kwara United.
Also despite been banished to Oshogbo, in Osun State, Remo Stars earned their first win of the season spanking Katsina United 2-0. Two goals – one in each half from Victor Mbaoma and Kingsley Akemini were enough to see off Katsina United.
In the NPFL Group B, FC Ifeanyi Ubah edged Kada Stars 1-0 to move up top in Group B. Chibuike Eze scored the only goal for the Anambra Warriors in the 62nd minute of the encounter in Kaduna. FC Ifeanyi Ubah now have 11 points from five games.
Heartland FC who were leaders prior to the match-day five fixtures suffered their first loss of the NPFL season, losing 1-0 away to Yobe Desert Stars. It’s the Yobe Stars’ first win of the season. James Odeh’s goal in the 65th secured a hard-fought win for the coach Ngozi Elechi’s side.
In Umuahia, Gombe United forced Abia Warriors to a goalless draw just as Plateau United and Kano Pillars shared the spoils playing out a goalless draw.
Wikki 0-1 Sunshine
Rivers Utd 1-0 MFM
Rangers 1-0 Enyimba
Lobi 3-0 Kwara Utd
Remo 2-0 Katsina Utd
Tornadoes 0-0 Insurance
Yobe Stars 1-0 Heartland
Plateau Utd 0-0 Kano Pillars
Kada Stars 0-1 FCIU
Abia Warriors 0-0 Gombe Utd