It was a case of injury induced loss for seven time Nigeria league champions, Rangers International F.C as the NPFL group A table topping side, recorded its fifth loss of the season courtesy of a 1-0 loss to Lobi Stars of Makurdi in a match day 19 encounter played at Aper Aku stadium.
Solomon Kwambe was the hero of the day for the host as his free kick from the edge of the box found its way past Japhet Opubo on the stroke of half time amidst complaints from the ‘Flying Antelopes’ that the kick was supposed to be an indirect kick but was taken directly.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote had to make early substitutions in this top of the table cracker as attacking sensations, Ifeanyi George and Seka Pascal limped off the pitch injured on 5 and 27 minutes to throw spanners into the plans of the Enugu side after making three changes to the side that beat Kwara United midweek.
Alimi Sikiru, Samad Kadiri and Samuel Mathias were a constant threat for the backline of Rangers led by Pape Ousmane, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Isaac Loute and Tope Olusesi who did well to contain the rampaging trio.
As both benches were looking to retire to the dressing room, Lobi was provided an opportunity as Rangers substitute, Ifeanyi Egwim was adjudged to have fouled a player on the edge of the box and Solomon Kwambe stepped up to score the only goal of the feisty encounter despite complaints from the Rangers players and bench.
Rangers was given a lifeline as the game approached the hour mark as they got a numerical advantage with the sending off of Ezekiel Otudigha for rough play but this failed to count positively for the visitors whose third substitute on 68 minutes, Zeidine Ousmane, also gripped his muscle after only two minutes on the pitch.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote said after the encounter, “It was a difficult game for us considering the injuries that hit us in the game but we take the positives away from this loss that has slowed us down in the qualification race for the end of the season play off. We failed to take the few chances we created but the one they had they took and that is the difference in this encounter. We hope to come back better in our next games.”
Despite the loss, Rangers maintain its stay at the top of the group A log with 34 points from nineteen matches played while Lobi Stars climb to the second position with 30 points while Enyimba and MFM drop to 3rd and 4th respectively after failing to win their home fixtures on match day 19.
Rangers next play ‘Old Foes’, Bendel Insurance in a match day 20 encounter inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.