1975 African Club Champions Cup debacle, day Mehalla Saw Wahala

Source: https://niyitabiti.net/2017/07/1975-african-club-champions-cup-debacle-day-mehalla-saw-wahala/


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!

1975-african-club-champions-cup-debacle-day-mehalla-saw-wahalaMrs. Julie Alale
( Madam Rangers )

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!

The post 1975 African Club Champions Cup debacle, day Mehalla Saw Wahalaappeared first on Vanguard News.


Sultan of Sokoto visits Enugu Rangers

Source: http://dailypost.ng/2016/12/17/sultan-sokoto-visits-enugu-honour-rangers-inaugurate-projects/

His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji (Dr.) Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar is among the dignitaries expected to attend tomorrow’s grand reception being organized by the Enugu State Government in honour of the 2015/2016 Nigerian Professional Football League Champions, the Enugu Rangers International Football club.
The Sultan, who is a staunch fan of Enugu Rangers starting from his days in Nsukka (from 1977 to 1983) as an Army Officer has remained committed to the noble course of the club till date.
According to a statement by the Chairman of the Publicity Sub-Committee for the event, Louis Amoke, the Sultan is also expected to inaugurate some road projects executed across the state by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s administration and also visit the University town of Nsukka, where the people of the area will accord him a civic reception.
Some of the completed roads for inauguration, according to the statement, include the Nike Lake road and the Abakpa Nike road in Enugu East Local Government Area; the Post Office Roundabout- Odenigbo Roundabout- Ogurugu-Ikenga Hotel junction road and the Obechara road Junction-Umuakashi-Mechanic Village-Ikenga Hotels junction road in the University town of Nsukka.

Also speaking on the Sultan’s visit, the National Chairman of Enugu Rangers’ Supporters Club, Ibuchukwu Nwodo described it as historic and a clear indication that the club remains a unifying force in the promotion of peace and national unity.
Nwodo thanked Governor Ugwuanyi for honouring Rangers after all the support he gave the club, which saw it to victory.
“I sincerely thank God for what is happening in Enugu State since His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi took over the leadership of the state.
“Apart from regular payment of workers’ salaries and numerous massive development projects going on in the state, in spite of the severe economic challenges in the country, Gov. Ugwuanyi still supported Enugu Rangers to victory.
“Tomorrow, Gov. Ugwuanyi and the people of the state will honour the club to say thank you for the job well done and also inspire them to greater heights, and the Spiritual Leader of Nigerian Muslims, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto will be attending the event. This is an attestation that Enugu State is truly in the hands of God and that Rangers International is a club to reckon with,” he said.

El-Kanemi Warriors coach, Bosso calls on referee to apologize to goalkeeper

Source: http://dailypost.ng/2016/10/12/npfl-el-kanemi-warriors-coach-bosso-calls-referee-apologize-goalkeeper/

Head coach of El-Kanemi Warriors, Ladan Bosso, has called on the centre referee who officiated their match against Enugu Rangers, to apologize to his goalkeeper, Yekini Kazeem, for wrongful dismissal.

Kazeem was given a straight red card, after he was adjudged to have challenged Rangers’ striker, Ifeanyi Egwim, during the final fixture of last season’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Egwin, who came off the bench in the 81st minute of the encounter, was taken straight to hospital after fracturing his left shin

“I have been expecting the referee to come out publicly to apologise to the goalkeeper, Yekini Kazeem for wrongful dismissal in the final day match at Enugu Rangers,” Bosso told SuperSports.

“The apology is necessary to atone for the psychological trauma the goalkeeper have been going through especially now the referee must have seen that his decision was done in error.

“The practice in Europe is that referee usually come back to apologise to the victim for any faulty decision.

“You would have noticed that the referee made three costly mistakes in the clash all in favour of Enugu Rangers.

“We do not hope to challenge any of the mistakes as the better side won the match but the referee must come out to apologise for the red card so that the player will not carry over the punishment to the next season which will amount to double punishment.

“The League management Company (LMC) should compel the referee to do the needful to ensure the heavy burden on the player as a result of the red card is drastically reduced.

“The referee acted in error at least he must have taken a second look at the match video to appreciate the foolery of his action and must now atone for the mistake with a public apology.”

El-Kanemi Warriors finished in ninth place with 51 points.

Enugu Rangers begin trophy parade

Source: http://pulse.ng/sports/football/enugu-rangers-npfl-champions-begin-trophy-parade-id5597708.html

Rangers lifted the title on Sunday, October 2 after beating El Kanemi 4-0 at their home of Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu.

After lifting the 2016 Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) trophy, Enugu Rangers are to kick off their trophy parade on Thursday, October 13.

The Flying Antelopes needed only a point to win the league but tore their opponents apart to kick-off a slew of celebratory events in Enugu.

Officials of the club told Pulse Sports that the parade around the city of Enugu.

Enugu Rangers

According to sources, the parade will start at the State House and end at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium.

For the title win, a proposal has been sent to the Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to reward the players with lands.

Speaking in an interview, the Enugu State Sports CommissionerCharles Ndukwe said land rewards are much better than cash and cars.

“Even if the person decides to sell it tomorrow, he gets a lot of money but you know we need to teach them financial discipline,” Ndukwe, told Complete Sports.

  “But if the governor decides to give them cash, fine and good. You know he has a large heart and whatever he’s going to give these boys he’ll bring to the exco where it will be discussed before execution.

Segun Odegbami on Enugu Rangers

As Enugu Rangers is crowned Nigeria League Champion, Mathematical Segun Odegbami writes a beautiful essay on Rangers!


The Nigerian football legend, Segun Odegbami gave the most vivid, factual and fluid description of the birth of Rangers International Football Club thus:

“With the end of the civil war in 1970, a “starved” East (Eastern Nigeria) came out roaring. A symbol of unity amongst the Igbos … It was as if the football club wanted to regain through football what the Igbo “lost” during the war”!

The team became very popular and was nicknamed the “coal city boys”. They wore an immaculate all-white jersey and their style of play was robust and direct – a complete contrast to the Brazilian pattern that Nigerian football was used to. Although football at that time was under the domination of clubs like Stationery Stores of Lagos and Mighty Jets of Jos, Rangers shot straight to national prominence and became a force to be reckoned with throughout the 1970s.

The team’s first noticeable qualities were leadership and discipline, and their first captain, Godwin Achebe was made Captain of the Nigerian National Team. His successor at the club, Christian Chukwu also became the national captain. That generation of Rangers, with goalkeeper Emmanuel Okala and no-nonsense centre-half Dominic Ezeani, among others like Chimezie Ngadi and Kenneth Ilodigwe, took Nigerian football by storm. Ogidi Ibeabuchi and Emeka Onyedika were fast on the wings while “Alhaji” Dominic Nwobodo and Mathias Obianika scored plenty of goals.

The only team that prevented Rangers from taking total domination of Nigerian football at that time was IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan. Ibadan of course, was the capital of the western region, so IICC was really the symbol of the people of western Nigeria – the Yorubas.

The rivalry between Rangers and IICC is as legendary as that between Real Madrid and Barcelona. The Nigerian National Team, the Green Eagles (now Super Eagles) almost became the exclusive property of these two teams. Interestingly, the strongest point of that Super Eagles team was the telepathic understanding between Christian Chukwu and IICC’s playmaker Segun Odegbami on the field.

So, while the players fought like arch enemies when playing for their clubs, they remarkably put all that aside and played as one formidable unit in the national team. Christian Chukwu had a remarkable talent for placing accurate long range passes, and in most cases, the speedy Segun Odegbami on the right wing was his target.

Rangers were the masters of robust football, but the few known ball playing players in the team turned out to be quite spectacular. The best known of them was the left-footed Stanley Okoronkwo, followed by midfield general Christian Madu who was dragged back home from Ghana. The folklore then was that Stanley invented the “banana” shot.

Coached by Dan Anyiam, those guys won the Nigerian title, the “Challenge Cup”, got to the final of the African Cup of Champion Clubs in 1975 and then became African Champions via the Cup Winners Cup in 1977, following on the heels of IICC’s record feat the previous year.

Rangers’ players were dropped from the Super Eagles’ squad to the AFCON in 1976 due to the inability of the then FA to manage the conflicting schedules that required as much as seven Rangers players to shuttle between the national camp and club engagements at domestic and continental levels. Four years later, in 1980, Rangers’ stars returned in full force to help Nigeria win the African Nations Cup for the first time. Some of the dominant players of that historic feat include Chairman Chukwu (captain, from Rangers), Segun Odegbami (playmaker, from IICC), Emmanuel Okalla (goalie, Rangers), and Adokiye Amiesimaka (CMS Grammar School).

1977 was one year Nigerian soccer fans will not forget in a hurry. It was the year that the civil war resurfaced; not with bullets and guns, but on the football field. IICC won the national league but elected to defend their Africa Cup Winners Cup, thus pitching themselves against their local arch rivals. The build-up to the semi-finals was charged, horrific and worst of all, divisive. Rumours had it that players of both sides stopped speaking to each other in the national camp. Eventually, after a “ding-dong” battle in Kaduna, Rangers scraped through and subsequently won the continental trophy.

In the 1978 Challenge Cup final, Rangers suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of a group of young kids playing for Bendel Insurance and coached by the original “Nigerian Guardiola”, Alabi Aisien. On that better forgotten afternoon, Henry Ogboe, Felix Agbonifo, Kadiri Ikhana and their co-“conspirators” drew rings round the world famous Rangers stars for 90 minutes and won comprehensively by 3-0.

The damage was done and that “disgrace” by Bendel Insurance became the beginning of the end of a truly great and majestic era of Nigerian football. Rangers was forced to change their style of play. A lot more emphasis was placed on ball playing skill when the new players were recruited. Chibuzor Ehilegbu, Sylvanus Okpalla, Kenneth Boardman and Okechukwu Obiora (a.k.a AgariMojo) were the most prominent of a crop of really skillful players of the new Rangers era. Also outstanding was Mike Emenalo (now at Chelsea FC) and Ben Okorogu, the schoolboy defender that was rated world-class but sadly died in the national camp.

The 1980 AFCON victory in Lagos saw Christian Chukwu and Emmanuel Okalla bow out in style, and a new chapter was soon to open with Stephen Keshi as national team captain and Patrick Okalla (yes, Okalla’s junior brother) as the national goalie.

The most significant transformation in the new Rangers was that, as the years went by, the memories and sadness of the civil war gradually faded away and Rangers became more and more “national” in content. Many players of non-Igbo origin were recruited. Adokiye Amiesimaka, a Rivers boy and sensational two-footed winger of the Nigerian national team was recruited to play for the team. Most teenagers of Igbo origin today will not even be aware that Rangers used to be the symbol of unity of their kinsmen way back in time. Worst still, they probably do not even know that Rangers was such a great team – the best in Nigeria.

Coach Imama Amakpakabo has led a crop of history-making players to restore Rangers to its rightful place as the Champions of Nigeria. I am not an Igbo man, but at a time like this, I will be very proud to be one.

Up Rangers !

And after 32years they finally broke the jinx.