Gabriel Olalekan’s own goal in the first half helped Rangers International of Enugu to a scrappy win over Sunshine Stars at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu on Thursday.
Rangers returned to domestic assignment for the first time since their failure to advance beyond the Group phase of the CAF Confederations Cup this season.
However, the Gbenga Ogunbote side performance was not a convincing as they benefited from Olalekan’s error, as he diverted Ajani Ibrahim’s cross into his own net leaving his goalkeeper, Ayo Ojo stranded in the 26th minutes.
Rangers head coach Gbenga Ogunbote dropped Michael Uchebo to the bench , started with Bright Silas, Ajani Ibrahim and Ifeanyi George attack . Pape Ousmane Sane and former Enyimba defender, Isiaka Oladuntoye paired in the heart of defence for the Flying Antelopes as Okey Odita dropped to the bench.
Sunshine Stars gaffer, Kabiru Dogo, paraded a strong side, with Sunday Abe and former Rivers United defender, Gabriel Olalekan , Seun Sogbeso, Esosa Igbinoba all started.
The Flying Antelopes should have taken the lead inside 11 minutes, but Godwin Aguda could only direct his attempt into the side of the net from a Bright Silas cross. Ifeanyi George also came close to drawing first blood for the Flying Antelopes, before hitting the woodwork on 23 minutes.
Sunshine goalkeeper Ayo Ojo also denied Rangers a perfect opportunity to take the lead, when he rushed off his line to keep out Ajani Ibrahim’s low drive from ten yards on 25 minutes.
But it won’t be long before Ojo got beaten, it was his defender Gabby Olalekan who turned Ajani’s cross into his own net to score the only goal of the game.
The home side were almost caught napping in added time, when substitute Chibundu Amah struck the woodwork, an effort that almost brought Sunshine Stars level before the break.
The Owena Waves started the second half with a renewed confidence and dominated the early stages of the second half. The pressure almost paid off on 56 minutes when Amah’s strike beat Nana Bonsu, only for Oladuntoye to provide a vital block to prevent the ball from hitting the back of the net.
Rangers then pulled the pressure and came close to a second goal but Ojo would stretch at full length to keep out Ajani’s strike.
Rangers moves to seventh position on Group A of the NPFL, while Sunshine remain in fifth position.
Next for Enugu is a home tie with Katsina United on Sunday, while Sunshine Stars travel to Aba to face seven-time champions, Enyimba International.