35 years after, Enugu Rangers finally emerge Aiteo Cup champions

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Enugu Rangers have emerged as the winners of the Aiteo Cup 2018 after defeating Kano Pillars by 4-2 on penalties after the game ended 3-3 after normal regulation time.

The game played at Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Wednesday saw the two teams expectedly wanting to take home the trophy.

The Enugu based club at the start of the game camped themselves in the half of their opponents losing chances.

However, the narrative changed the moment the Masu Gida took control of the game and deservedly got the opener at the 5th minute from Rabiu Ali following an from Nyiman Nwagua.

Desperate to get back into the game, the Flying Antelopes as Enugu Rangers are also known, were careless in their play and duly paid for the carelessness in the 20th minute when Ibrahim Alassan’s corner kick was parried into the net by Femi Thomas.

With the Rangers on the rope at this point, Pillars began to pile heavy pressure on their opponents. Junior Lokosa who had been somehow silent began to assert himself, creating chances to increase the lead.

At the restart of the second half, Kano Pillars picked up from where they stopped in 48th minute when Nyima Nwagua shrugged off Rangers’ Okey Odita after a flick by Lokosa to score the third goal for Pillars

Rangers’ gaffer, Gbenga Odunbote decided he had seen enough made a goal keeping change, replacing Thomas with Nana Bonsu.

With the game thought to be dead and buried, Enugu Rangers had other ideas. The goal margin was reduced following Kelvin Itoya’s screamer in the 77th minute.

In the 82nd minute, Chidera Ezeh drags Rangers back into contention raising the hopes of fans of a memorable comeback with eight minutes to go.

The comeback script was completely rewritten when in the first minute of added time, Ajani Ibrahim equalised for Rangers at the bewilderment of Kano Pillars players and supporters to take the game into penalties.

Following this victory, Enugu Rangers have won the 73 year old Federation Cup six times after winning it in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981 and 1983.


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•Sport writer/blogger • Media strategist •Good citizen of Nigeria and Social Media Evangelist and a core die hard Real Madrid fan.

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