Enyimba Football Club suffered their second defeat of the Nigeria Professional Football League season with a 1-0 loss to Rangers International in a closely fought affair at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Sunday evening.
Ajani Ibrahim’s 39th minute winner ensured that the People’s Elephant had no share of the points in the lively derby.
Usman Abd’Allah made three changes to the side that started against Lobi Stars in midweek, with Stanley Okorom, Chukwuka Onuwa and Joseph Osadiaye drafted in for Andrew Abalogu, Abdulrahaman Bashir and Stanley Dimgba.
The first real high point of the game came off in the twelfth minute when former Enyimba forward Ifeanyi George struck Theophilus Afelokhai’s near post following an inswinger from Ajani Ibrahim.
Enyimba responded at the other end, with debutant Stanley Okorom attempting two long range efforts that went just over.
Thereafter, Ibrahim Mustapha proved to be a handful for the home side as the visitors increasingly tuned into the game. The 22-year-old was involved in a delightful interplay with Onuwa, few minutes before hitting a long range effort that pulled a top drawer save from Nana Bonsu.
The hosts eventually took the lead six minutes before the break after a quick transition play culminated in Ifeanyi George’s cross from the right being angled into Theophilus Afelokhai’s far post by Ibrahim Ajani.
Godwin Aguda came close to doubling the lead two minutes later but his low drive went inches wide as halftime closed in.
Coach Abd’Allah returned from the break with a clear intent to attack, bringing on Wasiu Alalade for Onuwa to increase his options up front. But the hosts continued to threaten and Ajani Ibrahim was soon flagged offside after beating Afelokhai’s with a header.
With just over twenty minutes left, Freedom Omofoman was sent on to provide pace on the flank, and not long after Mustapha found space in the box but his strike went well over.
Abd’Allah brought on Abdulrahaman as time beckoned, and the substitute’s long pass found Mustapha in the closing minutes, but again, the latter’s well-struck acrobatic kick went over the top. It proved to be the last chance of the game as Rangers held on to subject Enyimba to their second defeat of the campaign.
The People’s Elephants will now shift focus to next weekend’s home fixture against Rivers United.