Five things we learnt as Rangers overcome Enyimba in Oriental Derby

By Clement Nwankpa Jr

Ajani Ibrahim’s 40th minute strike was all Rangers needed to beat Enyimba 1-0 in the Oriental Derby. We learnt five things from the game.

ABD’ALLAH STRUGGLING TO FIT ONUWA INTO HIS STARTING ELEVEN

Chukwuka Onuwa has been having difficulties starting games since joining Enyimba from MFM this term. He got a rare start against Rangers alongside Austin Oladapo in midfield. There had been questions surrounding the workability of having both players start games together. This game highlighted what a luxury Onuwa is in Usman Abd’allah’s Enyimba. His presence was responsible for Rangers’ first half dominance leading to the solitary goal. By the moment he was removed in the 46th minute, Enyimba competed well. Abd’allah likes his midfielders to win the ball as well as carry it. Onuwa’s poor marking abilities make him a liability and he was the reason the team yielded the midfield to their hosts in that first half that decided the game.

WITHOUT ODITA, RANGERS DEFENCE LOOKS MORE STABLE

Rangers skipper Okechukwu Odita is highly thought of at the club. Somehow, they have had difficulties moving on from him despite his advancing age. He has slowed down and is more susceptible to the fast forwards that populate the modern game. His past exploits for the club speak volumes but he is always one tackle away from calamity. After his blunder gifted Lobi Stars the Super Cup, the technical crew had decided to go with younger defenders. The Semiu Liadi/Pape Ousmane combo was steady in this game. It was hard to believe they were playing together for the first time. Ousmane particularly deserves commendation for his timely interventions.

THAT MUSTAPHA WORLDIE THAT WASN’T TO BE

This league is really loaded with talents, producing magical moments weekly. We still remember that Sikiru Olatunbosun wonder strike against Rangers two seasons ago that was voted CNN goal of the week. This game missed another worldie by the whiskers. In the 86th minute, Abdulrahman Bashir’s cross was met by Ibrahim Mustapha with an overhead kick that would have rivalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League strike last season if it had gone in. But it missed target by inches. Many at the arena thought Enyimba had equalised.

BOBBY ALMOST BLEW THIS

Rangers made a like-for-like substitution in the 67th minute bringing on Bobby Clement for Michael Uchebo. This nearly proved costly. Within 20 minutes, Bobby had been booked twice and consequently sent off. At this point, Enyimba had seized the initiative with Bashir’s introduction. If this numerical advantage had occurred earlier, the result could have been different. Ultimately, the Flying Antelopes had to just about cross the finish line.

ENUGU FA LEAD THE ANTI-VIOLENCE CRUSADE

Kudos must go to Enugu FA for a vigorous anti-violence campaign throughout the game’s duration. A billboard was displayed pitch-side with the inscription ‘This is the Cathedral…Home of fair play…No encroachment…No hooliganism…No violence…Offenders will be prosecuted.” Coupled with the constant announcements over the public address system in English and Igbo languages, the conscious effort to forestall crowd disturbances at this venue was visible. Other state FAs should take a cue from Enugu.