It was a spirited display from already qualified Rangers International F.C for the end of season ‘Super-Six’ playoff in a match day 22 encounter with host’, Wikki Tourists who ran away with a lone goal victory inside Gombe stadium, Pantami on the last day of the regular abridged season.
Manu Garba was the hero of the day for the ‘Tourists’ from Bauchi as he raced onto a defence-splitting pass from Adeshina Gata to slot past Seidu Mutawakilu in goal for the ‘Flying Antelopes’.
Rangers had started the tie in blistering form with Koffi Roland, West Omodu, Chidiebere Okolie and Ayogueke Emeka dictating the pace of the game but were found wanting in the third half of pitch.
The host gradually fought back into the game with Mubarak Umar, Manu Garba and Adeshina Gata pushing back the visitors and created some chances that went begging while the Ghanaian shot-stopper, Mutawakilu was alert to beat out a Gata’ effort on 43 minutes.
In the second half, it was the visitors that continued to dominate proceedings but a momentary loss of concentration from the backline gave Garba the freedom to dispatch a defence-splitting pass with the accuracy of a panther.
Tried as much as the wards of coach Ogunbote did, there was no denying the host a much-needed victory, the first over Rangers in four seasons at home, and beat the dreaded drop from top-flight football.
Rangers gaffer, Olugbenga Ogunbote said after the encounter, “It was a great match that my players gave their all but for that momentary loss of concentration that resulted in the goal. We take back the positives from this encounter with the hope of infusing it into our play at the end of season playoff. Wikki is a good team no doubt but the absence of some of my key players contributed in some ways to this result. It has been a very good first half of the abridged season and we hope for a better second half at the ‘Super-Six’.
Captain of the side, who shone like a million star in the heart of the defence, Okey Odita, said, “We thank God for the match but would have loved to leave Gombe with a point but it was not to be. We hope to do better at the end of season playoff.”
Coach of Wikki Tourists, Aliyu Zubairu said, “We worked hard for this victory and I am very happy to have stopped Rangers’ dominance over us in the past four seasons. No doubt, Rangers is a great side and I believe that the absence of some of their tested legs which I believe they are resting for the super six made the game easier for us.”
Rangers ended the regular abridged season topping group A with 40 points from twenty-two matches qualifying for the super-six playoff with Lobi Stars and Enyimba in second and third places.