Rangers International FC became the first team to book a place in the Super Six Playoff of the abridged 2018/19 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) season yesterday with a 1-0 defeat of Bendel Insurance in Enugu.
Felix Ogbuike’s 85th goal was all the Flying Antelopes needed to pick maximum points at their famous Cathedral in the Coal City.
With 37 points from 20 games now, Rangers are certain to finish Group A as leaders going into the playoff with two matches left.
However, Insurance’s capitulation with just five minutes left of play yesterday certainly was not what Monday Odigie and his crew expected as they battle to remain in the topflight of Nigeria’s club football.
After picking three points at home in Benin from Katsina United in the rescheduled game and two more valuable away points against Kwara United and Niger Tornadoes, they had hoped for at least one point from the clash with Rangers yesterday.
Now, the heat is back on the Edo Arsenal’s faithfuls again as the 34 points from 20 games they currently have standing seventh cannot guarantee them safety. Miracles from their remaining two games will decide the fate of Insurance who returned from the wilderness after 11 years in the second tier league.
Elsewhere, Ismaila Sarki’s second minute goal in Minna condemned MFM FC to yet another defeat that has made their top-three finish more difficult.
The Olukoya Boys remain in No 4 but are likely to be pegged further back when all the Match-day 20 fixtures are concluded today.
In Group B, a penalty converted in six minutes of added time by Samson Obi completed Abia Warriors’ fight-back to grab maximum points after falling to a second minute goal by visiting El-Kanemi Warriors’ Sulley Mohammed.
Atilola Tunde Salami had cancelled the home side’s early deficit in the 39th minute.
The Maiduguri side may lose their third position when the remaining fixtures of the group are played today.
Tornadoes 1-0 MFM
Rangers 1-0 Insurance
A’Warriors 2-1 El-Kanemi
Remo Stars v Enyimba
Katsina Utd v Sunshine
Wikki v Kwara Utd
Rivers Utd v Lobi Stars
Nasarawa v Gombe
Yobe Stars v K’Pillars
Ifeanyi Ubah v Heartland
Go Round v Plateau Utd
Delta Force v Akwa Utd