Rangers edge Jigawa Stars to leave relegation zone
By Fisayo Dairo
Former champions Rangers International defeated Jigawa Golden Stars 1-0 in a rescheduled league game on Wednesday to climb out of the relegation zone in the 2019/20 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for the first time in eight matchweeks.
Winger Dauda Madaki scored the game’s only goal in the 70th minute after a pass from the ever impressive Ibrahim Olawoyin to ensure that Rangers move two places up, with Warri Wolves dropping below them on goals difference.
Rangers also extend their unbeaten run to nine matches in all competitions; six of them in the league consisting of four wins and two draws.
The Flying Antelopes went into Wednesday’s rescheduled Matchday 7 game against relegation battlers Jigawa Golden Stars at the back of an energy-sapping 0-0 draw at Akwa United on Sunday.
The team’s technical crew led by Salisu Yusuf consequently made five changes to his playing personnel, restoring Olawoyin and left-back Emmanuel Nwokeji to the starting lineup but most crucially handing Madaki a rare start on the flanks.
It was Madaki that went closest to scoring in a very cagey first half, when his well executed volley flew wide of Danjuma Paul Dami’s left hand post.
Jigawa Stars were however dealt a big blow when key player Ali Kalla Maro went off injured after 22 minutes. They never seemed to recover from the loss of the winger who has scored vital goals for the team, including the winner against Nasarawa United on Sunday.
Jigawa Stars coach Gilbert Opana named an unchanged side to that win and they were in the game until Rangers turned on the heat in the second half.
Goalkeeper Danjuma made impressive saves from Franklin Anthony (a long range effort) and twice from substitute Chinonso Eziekwe who could have scored from corner kick deliveries by Madaki.
The former Golden Eaglets goalkeeper could however do nothing to deny Madaki after he had been brilliantly put through by his close pal Olawoyin whose magical play saw the ball through two Jigawa Stars defenders.
The visitors did not do much to threaten Rangers goalkeeper Opubo Japhet in the game but substitute Abdulkadir Danburan somehow managed to whistle a free kick past Japhet’s crossbar in the closing stages.
Rangers, by the virtue of the win are now placed 16th on the log with 20 points and a +1 goals difference with Warri Wolves, also on same points with them dropping to the final relegation place for now. Jigawa Golden Stars also share same points with both teams and are now in the 18th spot.
Rangers will host Akwa United in a second of three consecutive home games in Enugu while Jigawa Stars will travel to Lafia to face fellow relegation haunted side Nasarawa United on Sunday.
Rangers: 2. Opubo Japhet 7. Ifeanyi Nweke (Osas Okoro 67′) 32. Emmanuel Nwokeji 26. Tony Shimaga 4. Uche John 33. Franklin Anthony 17. Ibrahim Olawoyin 27. Israel Abia (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke 90′) 29. Kenechukwu Agu 11. Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Chinonso Eziekwe 52′) 31. Dauda Madaki
Subs: 16. Olufemi Thomas 20. Tope Olusesi 34. Osas Okoro 21. Christian Madu 22. Kehinde Adedipe 10. Ugochukwu Ugwuoke 14. Chinonso Eziekwe
BOOKED: Kenechukwu Agu 88′
GOAL: Dauda Madaki 70′
Jigawa Golden Stars: 40. Paul Dami 14. Bilal Yakubu 28. Peter Allahnanan 22. Peter Dogara 5. Rahman Olanrewaju 2. Munkaila Musa 20. Ali Kalla Maro (Yusuf Suleiman 22′) 8. Richards Christopher 19. Samuel ‘Stone’ Onukwube 17. Yusuf Mohammed (Danburan Abdulkadir 77′) 36. Kingsley Innocent (Moshood Kazali 90′)
Subs: 1. Kenneth Christopher 4. Danburan Abdulkadir 15. Ibrahim Umar 6. Yahaya Yusuf 3. Nura Mohammed 33. Moshood Kazali 24. Yusuf Suleiman
BOOKED: Yusuf Mohammed 44′ Samuel Onukwube 71′