Rangers duo Itoya, Clement speak ahead of Super Cup tie against Lobi
By Fisayo Dairo
Barely four weeks after their historic comeback in the final of Nigeria’s Club Cup competition; AITEO Cup, former Nigerian league winners Enugu Rangers’ players will return to the rendezvous wherein they etched their names in sparkling gold and hope to add more glories to their stars.
The occasion this time may not be as glamorous as a Cup final could be but the bragging rights of being acclaimed as the Nigerian Super Cup winners against nominated league champions Lobi Stars suffices to expect players on showcase to want to give their all till the very end.
Although scheduled to come almost immediately after an international friendly between the national teams of Nigeria and Uganda, Tuesday’s Super Cup clash between Rangers and Lobi Stars billed for the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba is capable of bringing back memories of that awesome football night on October 24 which had mouths agape, heads buried in hands and soaked with tension like that of a man waiting for the emergence of words from the labour room.
After Monday’s final training session by both Lobi Stars and Rangers, www.npfl.ng spoke with the man whose outrageous goal sparked Rangers’ remarkable comeback in that final against Kano Pillars; super sub Kelvin Itoya and he admits his life will never be the same again.
“That result was a good one for me; my family, my career and for me going forward and I think it has spurred me to want to do more and put in more efforts because I cannot do below what I have done before,” says Itoya.
The former Warri Wolves wingers also does not forget easily, and as such recalls that Lobi Stars did a double over Rangers in the last league season, winning first in Enugu before beating Gbenga Ogunbote’s side in Makurdi. The Delta-born star is banking on the “favoured Asaba pitch” to help his side exact some revenge on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be a great game. Tuesday’s match is going to be an important one for us because we lost the two legs against Lobi Stars in the league last season and I think it’s time to pay them back in their own coin.
“We played the (Cup) final here and we were favoured on this pitch and I think we are going to be favoured again on Tuesday. We are ready for the game and we just want to win,” states Itoya.
Both Rangers and Lobi Stars will begin their new season as early as next week with first leg action in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) continental competitions. This, as expected has led to influx of players to the clubs.
Itoya will be lining up with a new teammate on Tuesday in Bobby Clement; a prominent member of the Rangers 2016 league winning side. The lanky forward has just returned to the Fyling Antelopes after a one year stint with Kuwait side Al-Arabi.
“I feel very proud and feel very opportuned to wear this jersey and get resigned back into the team by Rangers. I feel very happy about it and hope to repay their faith in me,” Clement told www.npfl.ng also after Monday’s training.
“I’m working hard by myself for the game and we are as well working hard as a team. It’s not easy to come back (from the stint abroad) but I’m working really very hard and will make sure that by Tuesday, God will give us victory in the game,” added Clement who scored crucial goals during Rangers’ impressive league title win.
Rangers vs Lobi Stars in the 2018 Nigerian Super Cup final will start at 7pm Nigerian time in front of what is expected to be tens of thousands of fans and a TV audience of millions of spectators.