Nigeria’s representative at the Total/CAF Confederation cup, Rangers International, inside the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium defeated defensive Defence Force SC of Ethiopia courtesy of a Godwin Aguda’s brace on Wednesday afternoon.
The reigning NFF/Aiteo cup champions did not keep anyone in doubt on its intensions right from the blast of the referee’s whistle signaling start of hostilities but were wasteful on the day with Godwin Zaki the worst culprit.
Two penalty kicks awarded the ‘Flying Antelopes’ on 55 and 84 minutes were neatly converted by the diminutive midfielder after substitutes, Ajani Ibrahim and Kelvin Itoya were fouled in the box.
The visitors were presented with two golden opportunities in the dying moments of the first half as Minyilnu Wendimu fired wide with a yawning net at his mercy while Semiu Liadi reacted the quickest to clear a goal bound shot on 43 and 44 minutes.
This was a clear message to Rangers coach, Olugbenga Ogunbote who hauled off Ifeanyi George for Ajani Ibrahim as the second half resumed to join forces with Kelvin Itoya who had earlier been introduced late into the first half for Godwin Zaki and the tide completely turned in favour of the Flying Antelopes.
Aguda who was denied a third by the cross bar as he connected beautifully with a Felix Ogbuke’s incisive cross which beat the keeper on 87 minutes said after the encounter, “I give thanks to God for all His grace and favour in this match. It was not an easy match but we would have won by a wider margin. It is not over yet as we still have ninety minutes to play in Addis Ababa and I am optimistic of our qualification to the next round.”
Manager of the Ethiopian side, Seyoum Kebede said at the post match conference, “It was a good match and Rangers were lucky to have won but we still have our chance to turn the table in Addis Ababa. I must state that I seldom talk about officiating but the referee intimidated my players with cards however, the penalties were good calls. The game is not over yet.”
Head coach of Rangers, Olugbenga Ogunbote said after the match, “It was a good game that would have seen more goals but for our inability to convert some begging chances. I give kudos to my players for holding their own despite all the challenges that came our way as we prepared for this encounter. It is good we did not concede any goal today going into the second leg as we hope to build on the positives from this match. Our dream is on and we must keep pushing until we get to the target we set for ourselves.”