Posted by News Express | 16 January 2017 | 2,316 times
Nigerian champions Enugu Rangers were stunned in front of their home fans on Sunday when Abia Warriors came from a goal down to win 2-1 in their first league game of the season.
Having won the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) last season after a 32-year wait, it was expected that Rangers would see off their southeast rivals, who have never beaten them in a league game in six previous meetings since April 2014.
Rangers head coach, Imama Amapakabo, without his best player of last season, Chisom Egbuchulam, gave new signing Fortune Omoniwari the nod to start and it was the former Akwa United and Heartland man who gave the Flying Antelopes the lead after 10 minutes from Chidiebere Okolie’s assist.
The lead of the champions lasted only 12 minutes as Emeka Isaac smashed home Sheriff Bashir's pass from all of 25 yards leaving Rangers goalkeeper Nana Bonsu with no chance.
The first half produced no further goals as Rangers met an organised defence line of Abia Warriors anchored by the experienced Ogbonnaya Okemmiri with support from the duo of Austin Obaroakpo and Abiodun Adebayo.
Amapakabo unimpressive with his side's attacking play sent on former Enyimba man, Daniel Etor for goalscorer Omoniwari but it was Abia Warriors who would get the winning goal through Godwin Zaki.
Zaki converted from the spot with 18 minutes to time after Rangers captain Chibuzor Madu stopped the cross of Ahmed Yacoub with his hand in the box.
It nearly turned a show of horror for the champions and their faithful inside their Cathedral, as they now called the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, when Zaki turned in Yacoub’s cross but referee Hadiza Musa ruled it offside.
The result marked a happy return to Enugu for Abia Warriors head coach, Okey Emordi, against his former employers.
The story was different for last season’s runners-up Rivers United who got off to a winning start by defeating El-Kanemi Warriors 2-1 at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium in Port Harcourt.
Guy Kuemian scored on 26 minutes from Lukman Mohammed's assist and it looked like they had wrapped up the game in the 89th minute when former Heartland man, Emeka Ogbugh doubled their lead. But El-Kanemi pulled one back in added time through substitute Bello Koformata as the game ended on a nervy note for the hosts.
At the Agege Stadium in Lagos, the game was all but over after the first 45 minutes as MFM FC saw off Niger Tornadoes in a blitz of attacking football. MFM won 3-0 through goals from Sikiru Olatunbosun, Stephen Odey and Adegboyega Adekunle.
The win puts MFM in the driving seat after the opening day.
There was not to be any sort of deja vu in the game between 3SC and Lobi Stars as the former dispatched their opponents 2-0.
Afolabi Waheed scored the first and youngster Sunday Faleye netted the second with only his first touch on the ball after coming off the bench. It took him just 12 seconds of coming on to score.
ABS defeated Akwa United managed by Abdu Maikaba 3-1 with Mohammed Mohammed, Stone Evbuomwan and Abubakar Chindo scoring for them while Godspower Igudia netted for Maikaba’s men.
Tasiu Lawal and Suleiman Ibrahim scored for Katsina United as they beat Gombe United 2-1 with Nasiru Sani producing the assists for both goals. Mannir Ubale got Gombe United’s goal.
New boys, Remo Stars, began life in the top-flight with a 1-2 home loss to Plateau United. Kim John put Plateau United in front on 26 minutes before Victor Mbaoma levelled the score at 1-1 before the break.
Elisha Golbe powered home the winner for Plateau United in the second half.
Ibrahim Mustapha’s goal in the first half was enough for seven-time champions Enyimba to take the full points against Sunshine Stars in Calabar while Wikki Tourists and Nasarawa United played out a goalless draw. (© supersport.com)
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