Impressive Babawo secures slim win for Tornadoes over Rangers
By Andrew Randa
Ibrahim Babawo’s goal in the 17th minute was all Niger Tornadoes needed to defeat Enugu Rangers in a Matchday 16 fixture in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) at the Bako Kontagora Stadium in Minna on Sunday.
It was always going to be a tough task for Rangers in Minna considering Tornadoes have not lost at home since relocating back ‘home’ from Lokoja.
There was also the added spice that Tornadoes had an in-form Babawo, who missed their last game due to international duties with the U20 team in Egypt, back in their matchday squad.
True to type, Babawo it was that scored goal the only goal of the game after profiting from a spill by Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu who couldn’t hold a ferocious free-kick by Reuben Ogbonnaya.
The home side started the better of the two sides as Bashar Usman and Babawo peppered the Rangers backline down the flanks creating openings for John Kim who could not make hay.
The lively Babawo was clattered by Okey Odita in the 17th minute and Ogbonnaya’s resultant free-kick was too hot for Nana Bonsu.
The goalkeeper dropped the ball and Babawo was on hand to tuck in the rebound to put Tornadoes ahead and deservedly so.
Rangers almost equalised but when Ifeanyi George found himself free in the Tornadoes box but he somehow contrived to skew his shot wide much to he relief of the Tornadoes technical bench.
Kim came close in the 46th minute to edge Tornadoes ahead but Rangers goalkeeper Bonsu pulled of an incredible save to keep the scores at one-nil.
It was the turn of Bashar to have a go at the Rangers and after skipping past three defenders, the lively winger could not keep his shot down.
Rangers were under pressure for most of the second half but did have a chance to equalise in the 54th minute as Ajani Ibrahim and Kelvin Itoya created an opening for Rangers who could have scored if not for a last ditch tackle by Sunday Akinmoladun.
Abu Azeez’s introduction into the game brought some spark in attack for Rangers and he managed to carve out a chance in the 83rd minute which went off target.
Despite a late Rangers rally, Tornadoes held on for the three points in a game Babawo described as a very difficult game.
“It was hard. Very hard for us but I’m happy we got the three points at stake because Rangers are a very tough side to play whether home or away,” he told npfl.ng after the game.
“I’m happy I scored but much happier we got the three points today (Sunday). I missed the team when I went to Egypt and I’m glad to be back to help the team.
“We will keep working hard to make sure we do better as the league progresses. Hopefully we shall get a continental ticket at the end of the season.”
Niger Tornadoes: Mustapha Aliko; Reuben Ogbonnaya, Hussaini Isah, Andrew Ikefe, Sunday Akinmoladun, Austin Igenepo, Uche Onwuasoanya (Ahmed Liman), John Kim (Ammar Abdulkarim), Bolaji Adeyemo, Bashar
Usman, Ibrahim Babawo (Segun Alebiosu)
Unused subs: Terkaa Melai; Afees Nosiru, Ifeanyi Okoye, Iko James
Goal: Ibrahim Babawo
Rangers: Nana Bonsu; Okey Odita, Tope Olusesi, Isaac Loute, Christian Madu, Chibuzor Madu (Pape Sane Ousmane), Bright Silas, Kelvin Itoya (Abu Azeez), Ifeanyi George, Ajani Ibrahim, Ugonna Anyora (Chiamaka
Unused subs: Femi Thomas; Jonathan Richard, Solomon Okpako, Salau Ibrahim
Man of the Match: Bashar Usman (Tornadoes)
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