As the 2018/2019 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season winds down, Group A table-topping side, Rangers International F.C will be chasing all three points when they face archrivals and neighbours, Enyimba International FC in a Matchday 17 fixture, in a bid to end to their consecutive defeats in their last two league fixtures.
Following a 3-0 thumbing in the hands of Rivers United in their last re-scheduled encounter a few days back, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ are brimming with a lot of conviction going into this ‘Oriental Derby’ of ‘Seven Star Generals’.
Fixtures involving both sides have never lacked the expected excitements from start to finish as was the case in the first encounter of the 2018/2019 NPFL season on Matchday 5 when an Ajani Ibrahim’s 40th-minute finish earned the Enugu side all three points and the bragging rights.
On the managerial level, both sides parade the best brains in football administration with Prince Davidson Owumi leading the Enugu landlords on this soccer battle against Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu while on the technical side, reigning NFF/Aiteo Coach-of-the-Year, Olugbenga Ogunbote will be charging his wards from the bench for the visitors against his former employers who have pitched tent with coach Usman Abd’Allah.
On the field, both teams parade at least three players that have featured for the other side at one point in his playing career making the game a much tougher encounter to navigate.
Coach Ogunbote revealed that the tie holds fond memories for him due largely to the passion and followership enjoyed by both clubs and wish to leave the Enyimba International Stadium with heads held high.
He said: “What we have in mind is to come back home with a positive result all we ask is a level playing field. Aside the fact that I have handled Enyimba in the past, I wish to see Sunday’s game as any other we have played so far in the league. We have gone past the loss in Port-Harcourt and it is behind us now. We are focused on this encounter and our target is getting a good result in this third fixture I am having against my former employers.”
According to pundits, this fixture will most likely be won in the midfield where both teams are spoiled with talents as Enyimba can call up Chinedu Udeagha, Onuwa Chukwuka, Stanley Dimgba, and Joseph Osadiaye while Rangers may rely on Tony Shimaga, Seka Pascal, Chiamaka Madu, and Ugochukwu Ugwuoke.
Bright Silas who was spoiling for action in this encounter before he was stopped due to an ankle injury in a state Aiteo Cup match said, “We are ready to break the unbeaten run of Enyimba and so we will give it our best in Aba. No doubt, it is going to be very interesting and competitive but we will go there and fight for the result we desire.”
Rangers, comparatively, looks better in attack as the Enugu side have netted 19 goals thus far but leaking five goals in the last two matches for a total of 13 goals, has shown that the defense line can be breached easily while Enyimba prides itself of a solid backline shipping in just eight while its attackers have been able to score fifteen times.
Going into this fixture, Rangers boast of two loses, two wins and a draw in their last five outings in the league while the host, Enyimba, boasts of three draws and two wins.
Rangers will likely miss the services of attacking sensation, Michael Uchebo, speed star, Bright Silas, Roland Koffi, Kelvin Itoya, Bobby Clement and a host of others but gaffer, Ogunbote is not worried about these absentees as he said, “Yes, there is the possibility that we may miss the services of some key members of the team but we have players registered for the competition that can comfortably fill the spaces. There is no cause for alarm.”
The top of the bill encounter is scheduled for the lush green Enyimba International Stadium in Aba, where over ten thousand spectators are expected to be on hand to catch a glimpse of the encounter from the first blast of the referee’s whistle to the last.
Rangers still top the Group A log with 31 points from 16 matches while Enyimba is closely following in second spot with 25 points from the same number of matches.