Enugu Rangers are set to confirm former boss Sylvanus Okpala as head coach following the sacking of club stalwart Benedict Ugwu and his entire backroom staff after the 2-0 loss at home to newcomers Akwa Starlets on Matchday 5 of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League.
Ugwu, popularly called ‘Surugede’ by club fans was brutally sacked inside the technical area at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium before the conclusion of the game.
Sunday’s loss was the second straight reverse the seven-time league champions have suffered at their Nnamdi Azikiwe base and a third in succession in the league.
A club statement on Sunday announced that Ugwu and his entire backroom staff have been suspended “indefinitely” by the club’s management with a new coaching crew “to be named in the next 48 hours”.
Sources within the Flying Antelopes have indicated that Okpala who represented the club in the 80s would take over the reins in Enugu.
The ex-international who was part of Nigeria’s 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winning squad would be returning to a familiar environment having previously stepped in when Imama Amapakabo’s successor Chukwuma Agbo was sacked following a series of disastrous results that left then champions Rangers 17th on the log in 2017.
He was also an assistant to Stephen Keshi when the Super Eagles of Nigeria won the AFCON title in 2013.
Ugwu who won the won the National Challenge Cup (now Aiteo Cup) in 1983 and 1984 in his decade as a player with the club was named head coach on an interim basis five months ago by General Manager Davidson Owumi following the expiration of former coach Gbenga Ogunbote’s contract.
The 1990 Nigerian player of the year led the 2018 Aiteo Cup champions to the group stage of the 2019/2020 CAF Confederation Cup but an indifferent league form that has seen Rangers manage just a solitary win in five games means he becomes the first manager to bite the dust this season.