Enugu Rangers players celebrating a goal against Ikorodu United on their way to winning the 2015/2016 NPFL title. PHOTO: LMC.
Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions, Enugu Rangers’ period of bad fortune continued yesterday when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by upstarts Remo Stars, reports supersport.com.
Under-fire Rangers head coach, Imama Amapakabo had been handed a three-game ultimatum last week to win or ship out, and his first of the three games ended in a 0-1 defeat at Katsina United.
However, things now look like they have reached a crisis point as the Flying Antelopes struggled to see off NPFL newly promoted side Remo Stars. It looked like Remo Stars would be run over when Daniel Etor’s weak shot went in after 14 minutes. The former Enyimba man’s goal was down to good fortune as Remo Stars goalkeeper David Walbe showed a pair of butterfingers as the ball rolled through his hands and beneath his legs and into the net.
Amapakabo was forced to make an early change with 11 minutes to the break by taking off Etor for Onoriode Odah. Apparently the Rangers trainer was mindful of Etor’s fiery temper and wanted to avoid going a man down in a game his team needed to win to ease the pressure of the ultimatum on him.
Rangers kept things tidy and went into the break with their one-goal lead. Six minutes into the restart, Rangers conceded. Ekene Awazie put Remo Stars on even terms after scoring from a fine solo effort to leave fans at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium stunned.
The Rangers coach sent on Chiamaka Madu for Tope Olusesi but Awazie’s goal spurred visiting Remo Stars to pour forward. Victor Chidume and Salefu Ochowechi nearly gave the Sky Blue Stars the lead while Ocheme Edoh failed to direct his header at goal for Rangers.
Eight minutes to the end, the Rangers bench and fans in the stands must have had their hearts in their mouths when Ochowechi’s effort from point-blank range looked to be going in, but Ghanaian goalkeeper Nana Bonsu was alert enough to deny Remo Stars what would have been a late winner and possibly the biggest result in the NPFL season.
Things aren’t looking good for the Nigerian champions as they have now won just one game in their last five league outings this season. Rangers still prop up the rear of the NPFL table with 13 points from 13 matches compared to last season when they occupied fifth position with 25 points at this stage.