Enugu – Rangers International Football Club of Enugu and Enyimba International FC of Aba on Sunday drew 1-1 draw in a week 37 match of the 2016/2017 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
The visiting Enyimba surprised the hosts with good resilience from the first to the last blast of the referee’s whistle in the match played at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
The visitors even put much more pressure on their hosts in the opening minutes, resulting in a penalty kick for them in the 23rd minute, which Ikechukwu Ibenegwu brilliantly converted. Rangers fought back in the second half, forcing the visitors to commit a defensive blunder in the 87th minute for a penalty kick which Chibuzo Madu converted for the equaliser. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rangers’ fans wildly celebrated the equaliser, after having lost all hopes of their team coming back into the match. Speaking later, Rangers’ Team Manager, Ameobi Ezeaku, thanked the fans for believing in the team even in a difficult match. Ezeaku, however, said the match was a difficult one for his team, praising his players for fighting relentlessly to get the draw. Enyimba’s coach Gbenga Ogunbote, on his part, said it was painful for him that a last-minute defensive blunder cost his team victory and the three maximum points. “It is unfortunate that we did not clinically conclude this match. However, our goal of picking a ticket to play on the continent in 2018 will be pursued to the last match,’’ Ogunbote assured.(NAN)
As opponents of Barcelona FC coined “No mercy for Messi”, so did the slogan, “Mehalla will see Wahala”, was chanted by fans of Rangers in 1975 when Mehalla FC of Egypt came to Enugu for a return match after defeating Rangers 3 – 1 in Cairo. Did Mehalla see wahala? Find out.
In 1975, just a year after emerging as the double Champions in Nigeria Challenge Cup and National League, Rangers International Football Club hit Africa Club Cup Competition with a killer instinct. In its first match against the Accra Great Olympics, March 1975, Rangers defeated the Ghana team 2 – 0 in Accra Ghana; with Nigerian player, Christian Madu, who played for the Ghanaians, harassing Rangers throughout the match.
Two weeks later, in Lagos, Rangers stamped their authority over the Ghanaians by defeating them 2 – 1 through Alex Nwosu and Kenneth Abana with the visitors’ only goal scored by Christian Madu. Of course, Rangers “conscripted” Madu from Accra Great Olympics after the Match in Lagos and he was not allowed to go back to Ghana. He joined Rangers after the Lagos second leg match!
In the second round match against Young Africans of Tanzania, played on May 10 at the National Stadium Lagos, Ernest Okonkwo, the legendary radio Commentator had this to say of the match: “This is unbelievable….I cannot believe that Rangers that out played and outscored Great Olympics of Ghana last month is finding it difficult to score this Tanzania team.”
The match ended goalless in Lagos. Rangers prepared for the return leg in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania, by staying put in Lagos instead of flying back to Enugu. In the return leg, two weeks later, Rangers played 1 – 1 draw with their hosts in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania with ex-Nigeria Academic player, Alex Nwosu, scoring for Rangers. Thus, Rangers progressed on away goal advantage.
In the Quarter Finals, Rangers defeated Green Buffaloes of Zambia, a predominantly military team on 4 – 3 aggregate having drawn 2 – 2 in Lusaka, Zambia, earlier on September 14th 1975. Rangers FC equalizer after trailing 2 – 1 up to two minutes to go was so dramatic and unbelievable. “I collected a pass from my skipper and ran through the left flank ending on the corner flag and pulling the ball into the eighteen, which Stanley Okoronkwo nodded in for the equalizer”, said Francis Nwosu, the dogged Rangers left full back. In the second leg, in Lagos, Rangers came from behind after conceding an early goal to defeat the Zambians 2 – 1 and moved to the semi-finals against Mehalla F.C. of Egypt.
In the first leg of the semifinals, Rangers travelled to Cairo, Egypt, to confront Mehalla FC and the match was moved to the club’s home where they walloped Rangers 3 – 1. In that epoch match, only one woman was in the field: Mrs. Julie Alale. It was alleged that it was the presence of Madam Rangers that helped Rangers to score a goal. “The Mehalla FC Supporters were said to be fetish and had banned women from coming to the match. However, they could not stop Madam Rangers from entry into the field and that spoilt their charm” was the submission of Rangers Supporters Club member, the late Mr. Robinson Okpara, known as “Jagua nana”.
The truth, however, is that the Rangers officials, prior to the match, had virtually no knowledge about Mehalla FC. In that country, especially in that environment, women hardly mix up with men in public gathering. Secondly, Rangers greatest goalkeeper, Emma Okala, had developed some eye problem on the eve of the match. Ogidi Ibeabuchi was also said to have been slightly indisposed. The match ended in the tragic 3 – 1 whipping of Rangers. Whatever, Rangers lost the match 3-1 in Mehalla. Rangers returned to Enugu, pleaded with NFA to move the return leg to Enugu where they roasted Mehalla 3 – 0, and qualified for the finals.
Madam Rangers: Madam Rangers is Rangers and Rangers is Madam Rangers
Mrs. Julie Alale stands alone as the first nationally recognized female supporter of a major Nigerian football club. She deserves special mention in the history of Nigeria’s football. Mrs. Alale was flamboyant and notable everywhere she went with the club….That Mrs. Alale would be identified with the club was not by happenstance. The club’s history, closely associated with the Nigerian Civil War, mirrors Mrs. Alale’s involvement with Rangers.
She was the wife of Mr. Philip Alale, a trade unionist who was commissioned as a major in the Biafran Army before he was indicted for treason and executed. Mrs. Alale was then detained for a good part of the war…but her spirit endured. It was not surprising then that she was the only lady among the various persons who met to establish the club at the end of the war on January 29, 1970. She had endured in her personal challenges and the Rangers club represented that spirit of endurance.
Mrs. Alale was to serve as the club’s Welfare Officer. She travelled with the club all over Africa. Some of these trips were made to difficult places but she was always easily recognizable as “Madam Rangers” with her usual hat to match her outfit….Ike Onwubuya
The most unforgettable of Mrs. Alale’s travels was to Cairo against Mehala in 1975. Women, at that time, were scarcely seen in public places without covering their face with the hijab, let alone in a stadium. The Egyptians would have none of Mrs. Alale’s intent to be at the stadium for the game. She was harassed and threatened but she insisted, and with the support of the Nigerian delegates, Madam Rangers stood shoulder high as the only lady among thousands of fans who packed the Cairo Stadium to watch Rangers confront Mehalla. It was a triumph of spirit and commitment. It was a spirit that saw her through the death of her husband, Philip, the detentions in Biafra, and then the challenge of the cultural police in Cairo. It was the spirit of Julie ‘Madam Rangers’ Alale!
Reigning Nigeria League champions, Enugu Rangers, blew away a two-goal lead to settle for a 2-2 draw in their CAF Confederation Cup 1st leg Round of 32 clash with Zambian club, Zesco United, on Sunday.
It was another disappointing display from the Flying Antelopes who have been struggling on the domestic scene and on the continent.
After failing the test in the CAF Champions League, Rangers were expected to do better in the second-tier club competition but that seems not to be the case at the moment.
The struggling NPFL champions couldn’t secure a win at home at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium and must now do that away in Zambia or better still record a higher scoring draw.
In Sunday’s game, Captain Chibuzor Madu scored the first goal for Rangers from the penalty spot in the 24th minute
Osas Okoro then doubled the advantage early in the second half. But in a rather disappointing manner, Rangers allowed the visitors back into the game.
Zesco will fancy their chance of progressing to the next phase as they did well to score two goals which saw the game ending in a 2-2 draw.
Enugu Rangers began their CAF Champions League campaign on a bright note, earning a 1-1 draw with Algeria’s JS Soaura in the North African country at the weekend. The draw means Rangers only need a goalless draw in Enugu to qualify for the third round of the competition’s qualifying series.
However, despite the draw, Rangers’ Chief Executive Officer, Christian Chukwu, says the team must brace up for the battle of their lives if they desired passage to the next round of the competition.
The Rangers’ delegation returned to the country yesterday morning aboard an Air Maroc flight and went straight to Enugu.
Chukwu, who praised the team for their feat in Algeria at the weekend, advised the coaches and players to be ready to get back to work in preparation for the second leg.He applauded the players for showing maturity and discipline in the face of provocation, intimidation and adverse weather at the Bechir Stadium, venue of the match.
“Despite all these odds, the players endured to secure a decent result that puts the team in a vantage position going into the return leg match on Sunday, February 19, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu,” Chukwu said, while assuring the players that all the logistics would be put in place to make preparation for second leg easy for them.
Enugu – Rangers International FC has revealed that it will start rolling out its branded bread called “Rangers Bread’’ and other flour confectionery products in Enugu metropolis.
Rangers’ Marketing Manager, Ignatius Okafor, made the disclosure to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu.
Okafor said the move was meant to shoring-up the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the club to prosecute a successful 2016/2017 football season.
He noted that the branded bread and other confectioneries from the club would be sold at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu during matches as snacks to spectators.
“The nutritious Rangers bread and other confectioneries will also be sold daily to the teeming fans of Rangers residing within Enugu metropolis and its outskirt for a start.
“And we will be glad to extend our supplies to other areas or states where our fans want them to come to.
“I believe that apart from getting IGR, the initiative will go a long way in making Rangers a household name and brand in most families, neighbourhoods and communities within and outside Enugu State,’’ he said.
He noted that the club would not rely solely on the state government but has decided to go into partnerships and businesses that would generate funds.
Okafor, however, noted that the club needed more funds as it would be going for continental derbies as well as defending its 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) trophy and Federation Cup in the current season.
Rangers will be visiting JS Saoura of Algeria on Feb. 10 for its first leg of the CAF Champions League. It will host the Algerian club on Feb. 17 in Enugu for the second leg.
The Cathedral -Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu – has a seating capacity of 22,000 spectators.
The stadium is expected to be filled to the brim during Rangers’ continental ties as it is normally seen during important national football derbies.