– Chinatu Jon
Good morning everyone,
When two elephants fight, the grass suffers but what about when the fight is between an elephant and a flying antelope on a synthetic turf? I think the spectator’s emotions bears the brunt. Yesterday, we went to Enugu to play in the biggest game of the season and rightly so it lived up to its billing as a very big game, against traditional teams and familiar foes all at once.
Aigbogun 2.0 had Anaemena and Nelson in front of Dauda with Ikouwem and Ojo to their left and right respectively. It was a really attacking side unlike as the Enyimba we’ve seen so far this season away from Calabar. Tofic had Ibenegbu and Udeagha as his midfield partners with Dimgba and Abalogu flanking Nonso in front.
The game started well as both teams pressed for an early goal but Rangers got it in just 5 minutes when a delivery from an Ikouwem foul found Bright Silas who headed past Dauda to give Rangers the lead. That goal was more like a shocker as it sent the stadium into a huge roar but all that noise could not deter the team from pushing our opponents and keeping them on their toes.
Gradually, the same fans who were visibly happy became scared of what was being served. Forays after forays of attacks kept everyone glued to their seats and one special moment came in the middle of the first half when Dimgba, Ibenegbu and Nonso combined brilliantly but found our former goalkeeper, Thomas, pull a top drawer save which got the goalkeeper injured. Luckily, Rangers finished the first half ahead.
The gaffer made tactical changes early in the second half with Ojo being pushed into the middle and Abalogu manning the right back which was the weak link in the first half. Bashir and Omofoman were also thrown in for Udeagha and Tofic to improve the attack which seemed to work.
It was as if Isaac Loute had personal problems with the team with his man of the match performance helping Rangers not to drop their lead. The best chance of the second half fell to Bashir who was found inside the Rangers’ penalty box but couldn’t bury his effort with just the goalkeeper to beat. It gradually became a half of a real derby with good football and some flaring tempers too.
When it got to the derby mode, the center referee lost the game, as well as his assistants. It became obvious that the game was bigger than them. Calls were given to the wrong offenders and at a certain point in the game, the AR1 stopped using his flag. I guess he was communicating with his CR telepathically.
Rangers managed to end the game with the lead still intact and their fans were really happy for the win, one they never deserved. Another Oriental derby not won, but the team that was displayed in Enugu is one best teams in the NPFL in terms of the quality of football.
Defeat definitely tastes bitter but we won’t get bitter. We will only get better.