Rangers braced for Oriental Derby with Heartland amid poor run

Seven-time champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) Rangers are looking to shake off their poor run of results when they play hosts to rivals Heartland in an Oriental Derby at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu this Sunday.

It looks a good time for the Flying Antelopes to face their southeast rivals who prop up the rear of the standings and have only managed just a win in their last eight league matches.

In the reverse fixture, it was a Bright Silas effort that settled the tie inside a packed Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri for the Flying Antelopes’ first win of the season. Now Rangers are on the verge of completing a double on their fiercest rivals.

Both teams have not been at their very best in recent matchdays with Rangers enjoying their last win in a 3-0 routing of Wikki Tourists in a Matchday 19 fixture while basement side, Heartland celebrated a first victory in eight games following a slim win over new boys Go Round.

Looking ahead with optimism to the fixture is former Heartland winger, Temitope Olusesi, who will be receiving his VAT Wonder Goal award on matchday, said the game is a must-win against his former employers.

“We expect a great match from Heartland but we are charged up to take all three points at stake. It’s been long since we last celebrated a victory and we are too hungry for victory to put our aspirations back on track. No doubt, there will be emotional times in the game but all I want is to give my best for my club if selected by the coach. Sincerely, we are not where we are supposed to be on the log. The top three remains our target,” Olusesi told Rangers media.

Echoing the attacker turned defender is Rangers head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote. He said: “We are condemned to win and that is what we are going for. Surely, it would be tough but we are more than prepared to deliver all three points for our devoted supporters. It is also going to be a highly pressured match for both sides as it is a derby game and I hope we get it right on matchday.”

Even with Adun Osamudiamwen, Tayo Fabiyi, Salau Ibrahim, Ugonna Anyora, Ugonna Uzochukwu and Semiu Liadi all ruled out due to one form of injury or another, Ogunbote has enough reservoir to prosecute this derby as Ifeanyi George and prodigee, Ifeanyi Okoro are raring to go and deliver for the Flying Antelopes.

For the visitors, they boast of the likes of Julius Ubido, Uche Oguchi, Okey Nwadike, Ike Thankgod and Ebele Obi who can help them leave Enugu unscratched.

Going into this fixture, Rangers occupy the 10th position on the log with 30 points from 23 matches while their guests, the Naze Millionaires bring up the rear with 19 points from 22 matches.