- Published on Thursday, 08 December 2016 15:07
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Rangers International coach, Imama Amapakabo is full of praise for Rivers United despite masterminding a 2-0 defeat of the Port Harcourt club in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Super4 on Wednesday.
Chisom Egbuchulam’s stunning second half double at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu put the ‘Pride of Rivers’ to the sword as the ‘Flying Antelopes’ hit the ground running in Nigeria’s biggest pre-season tournament.
Amapakabo noticed improvements in the United team and tips them to achieve positive things in the future.
“Rivers United have some very very good players that they have been able to add into their team and they are beginning to stand up and be counted.
“About three of my players were not finding their feet in the first half so I knew I had to effect the substitutions I did (that) in the second half for things to happen for us.
“We came with a different game plan but Rivers United surprised us with their tactics.
“I was expecting (Rivers United technical manager, Stanley Eguma) to play with three attackers, spread out wide but he played two strikers with (Nzube) Anaezemba playing out wide and coming into the centre.
“We noticed that, reorganized our play and it paid off for us,” he said after the game.
Amapakabo also had words of praise for the vanquished United team which he described as “a very good side that can hold on to the ball and play.”
“This is a better team compared to the side of last season. This is a very good side that can hold on to the ball and play.
“They however do too much of that (keep possession) in their own half of the pitch but I am sure the coach will correct that as the days go by.
“They need to play a lot more of through passes with their attackers making a lot of runs (off the ball) and they will get it right.
“On Wednesday, I saw a (Rivers United) side with so much confidence and they always want to play which is not a good thing,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eguma was still in bullish mood after the reverse on Wednesday especially after seeing his side play so well early on.
The experienced gaffer praised his players for the effort and identified isolated individual and collective mistakes for the loss to the ‘Flying Antelopes.’
“The goals they scored were against the run of play which were as a result of some defensive blunders we committed.
“Generally, my team did not disappoint but we will get better.
“Don’t forget too that Rangers played basically, the same team from last season while we are still trying to build a new team and that gave them a little edge over us.
“We lost concentration in some moments in the second half and also failed to score from some very good chances we created,” he said to the Rivers United media.
Rangers will next meet Wikki Tourists in a top-of-table clash on Friday by 5pm with United kicking off their next game of the tournament against FC Ifeanyiubah by 7pm.
Both games will be played at ‘the Cathedral’, the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
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