Abakaliki – Football fans in Abakaliki, Ebonyi have hailed Rangers International FC of Enugu for halting the recent humiliation suffered by Nigerian teams from their Togolese counterparts.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rangers on Sunday defeated Kara FC of Togo 1-0 in Enugu to reach the CAF Confederation Cup group stage, on away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
NAN also reports that the Togolese CHAN team recently eliminated their Nigerian counterparts from the CHAN 2020 tournament and stopped the same team from progressing in the WAFU competition, while Rangers lost the Kara FC tie’s first leg 1-2 in Togo.
The fans Monday in Abakaliki that Rangers’ victory would restore Nigerian teams’ confidence when confronting their Togolese opponents and possibly revive the age-long dominance they hitherto enjoyed.
Jude Erioma of the Defunct Udoji United FC of Awka, commended Rangers’ fighting spirit which made it maintain its early lead in the match till the end.
“Pundits and other stakeholders are concerned over the players’ fitness due to the late commencement of the nation’s professional league but the players stood firm to secure the win.
“The victory shows that with proper planning and resilience, Nigerian teams can sustain their dominance of other African teams, especially in the West African sub region,” he said.
Supporting Erioma’s assertion, Mark Okoro, former Head of Sports Development in Afikpo North Local Government Area, commended the team for qualifying for the group stage of the competition in spite of the inactivity caused by the domestic league’s late kick-off.
“The team has given Nigerian fans a reprieve because it could have been disastrous for Togolese teams to defeat their Nigerian counterparts in four straight matches within two months.
“The curious coincidence, however, is that Imama Amapakabor, the CHAN Eagles Coach whose team was humiliated by Togo led Rangers to a league conquest in 2016,” he said.
Chief Chikezie Ijeaku, a timber merchant and an ardent Rangers’ fan, urged the team not to be complacent over its victory over Kara FC but redouble its efforts to excel in the competition.
“Rangers will be meeting tougher opponents at this stage of the competition though the required match fitness is presently guaranteed with the eventual commencement of the nation’s domestic league.
“The Enugu State Government and other stakeholders should provide the necessary logistics needed by the team as it will be battling on both the continental and national league fronts,” he said.
Mrs Rose Odia, a banker also congratulated Enyimba FC of Aba for qualifying for the Confederations Cup group stage after eliminating Galaxy FC of South Africa 4-1 on aggregate.
“Both wins have extended Nigeria’s participation in this season CAF club competition and it is hoped that they will post credible performances in this money-spinning stage.
“Enyimba’s win also serves as a soothing balm over the recent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, while relevant soccer authorities should support both clubs to excel,” she said. (NAN)