It was another bad day in the office for Nigeria’ CAF Confederation cup 2019/2020 hopefuls, Rangers International F.C as it suffered a 3-1 home loss to Pyramids F.C of Egypt in the match day 1, Group A fixture inside Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu.
Three second half goals, two from the spot after Tope Olusesi had been sent off on the stroke of half time canceled out a fine strike from Olawoyin Ibrahim who started the build up and got an Egbujuo Nnamdi’ assist on 29 minute silenced the half full stadium that applauded the game put up by Rangers
The ‘Flying Antelopes’ under new coach, Salisu Yusuf started off well with his new team as Kenechukwu Agu, Ibrahim Olawoyin and Nnamdi Egbujuo doing well but a well knit defense put in place by the visitors ensured that no early goal was recorded.
Mohamed Salama well placed spot kick on 54 minutes after Isiaka Oladuntoye handled the ball inside the box while Japhet Opubo pulled off stings of saves to keep the home side in the game as the visitors took advantage of Rangers’ less personnel on the pitch.
With the ‘Flying Antelopes’ gaining confidence to venture forward, a quick counter after a missed opportunity provided the Egyptian side an opening at the back which substitute, Amor Layouni grabbed to fire a low cross past Opubo on 83 minutes while the referee adjudged Opubo to have fouled Eric Traore inside the vital area and pointed to the spot for the second penalty kick of the afternoon and substitute, Islam Attia made no mistake from twelve yards.
Coach Salisu Yusuf said after the encounter, “It was not the start we wanted but we take some positives from this match going forward. The red card affected us a lot because, it seem that the players just lowered their self confidence after the expulsion of Olusesi. Yes, we lost a match but not a competition, so there is a lot to play for.”
Defender, Ugwu Uwadiegwu said, “Surely it was a bad day for us. We started well but got it wrong when it mattered most. I must thank our fans and supporters for their show today and urge them to continue praying for us as we shall pass through the difficult phase soon.”
Coach of the Egyptian side, Frenchman, Sebastien Desabre said after the win, “It was a good game. Rangers had the first half while we took the second half. We created more scoring opportunity and deserve to win. Rangers is an organized side that would have done better but for the reckless challenge of their player that got sent off. I am not new to Nigeria as I have led teams here and gotten good results.”
Rangers will next play another Egyptian side, Al-Masry in match day 2 of the group stage in a week’s time and coach Yusuf will be hoping for the return of some of the top players that are out injured to earn a respectable score.
RANGERS TEAM: Japhet Opubo, Tope Olusesi, Ugwu Uwadiegwu, Christian Madu (Kingsley Egbujuo -77th Min.), Tony Shimaga, Isiaka Oladuntoye, Ibrahim Olawoyin, Kenechukwu Agu, Chiamaka Madu (issif Traore -55th Min.), Kelvin Itoya (Chinonso Eziekwe -59th Min.), Nnamdi Egbujuo. SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Saddick Abass, Isaac Loute, Kehinde Adedipe.