Four things we learnt from Niger Tornadoes vs Rangers
By Andrew Randa
Minna club Niger Tornadoes did just enough to claim the full points against seven-time NPFL champions Rangers International over the year through Ibrahim Babawo’s solitary goal at the Bako Kontagora Stadium on Sunday. It was not a high-scoring game but there were four reasons the match produced interesting talking points which are captured below.
Pacy wing play does it for Tornadoes
Niger Tornadoes head coach Hamza Abara started with John Kim at the tip of a three-man attack and he was supported from the flanks by Bashar Usman and Ibrahim Babawo. That combination was a problem for the Rangers defence as Tornadoes tore at them consistently using the wings where Babawo and Usman flourished like a British summer.
The duo ran the wings well and were a constant menace throughout the game and it was Babawo that eventually got the only goal of the game in the 17th minute. Tornadoes look like continuing in that format as Ammar Abdulkarim, another winger came in to add pep to the attack, created more problems for Rangers.
Reuben Ogbonnaya is a problem
No, I don’t mean a bad problem, far from that. The former El-Kanemi Warriors centre-back is gradually making a name for himself with his ferocious free-kicks and set-piece delivery.
He doesn’t curl them in like a certain Ikechukwu Ibenegbu. Ogbonnaya is all about power-packing bullets behind his shots. Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu felt the full force of Ogbonnaya’s bombs twice in the game and on one occasion, spilled the ball which Babawo profited from to score the only goal of the game.
Expect to see more of these in the coming games
Okey Odita still has it. The Rangers captain has refused to be played out of the park despite his many years in the league. He has just refused to go away. The leader of the Flying Antelopes, guardian of Enugu gates and key-holder to ‘The Cathedral,’ this veteran has got better with age like the proverbial wine. Despite his apparent lack of pace, he made up with fantastic positioning and awareness to help keep the scoreline at a respectable figure.
Odita won 85 per cent of all the aerial balls that came into the Rangers box as well as covering up for Tope Olusesi any time the right back bombed forward to initiate a Rangers attack. A leader at the back
Andrew Ikefe is Mr Versatile
The Tornadoes centre-back played in defensive midfield against Rangers and shone like a million stars with grit and graft. Ikefe is usually at the heart of the Tornadoes defence but coach Hamza opted to start with three centre-backs – Austin Igenepo, Reuben Ogbonnaya and Sunday Akinmoladun.
Hussaini Isah played as a wing-back which meant Tornadoes needed an enforcer in the middle. Ikefe answered the call and did it with great aplomb. He then reverted to centre-back momentarily when Ogbonnaya was off the field. His dexterity saw him also venture forward to support the attack and had two chances to score. Despite insisting he prefers to play in the centre of defence, it won’t be wrong to suggest to him to consider a permanent defensive midfield role. He was that good in the position.