With 11 titles between them the NPFL fixture between Enugu Rangers FC and Kano Pillars any observer would have hoped they’d be battling in a title decider, but it wasn’t the case on Wednesday.
When Rangers hosted Pillars in a rescheduled league game, it was a scrap for survival and relevance in the topflight.
The Flying Antelopes, with seven league crowns the most recent in 2016, went into the encounter hovering just above the relegation zone.
Salisu Yusuf’s side were tied on 20 points with struggling Jigawa Golden Stars, in 17th and 18th position.
The team had scored only 16 goals in 16 league games this season an average of a single goal per match.
As far as their defense is concerned, they had also conceded 16 in 16 leaving the team with zero goal difference.
Salisu’s appointment has improved very little in the team’s fortune, but in his defence, the gaffer inherited a squad blighted with injury and worrying fitness record.
Until last weekend’s defeat to Akwa United, Rangers were on a 9-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Almost similar to the record of Pillars, who were unbeaten in 13 consecutive games until the 3-1 defeat to MFM FC in Lagos a fortnight ago.
Last weekend, they returned the favor with a 1-0 win in Kano over the Lagos based club when they hosted in the famous Sani Abacha Stadium.
Musa Ibrahim understands he has tough task to restore some pride to the side, as their five-year trophy drought continues.
However, fate will not be kind to Pillars on Wednesday as they lost by the odd goal, courtesy a 75th minute strike by Chinonso Eziekwe.
⚽️ Chinonso Eziekwe 75’
Shots (On Target): 11(4) – 1(4)
Blocked shots: 1-2
Yellow card: 1-2
Red Card: 0-0
— League Management NG (@LMCNPFL) February 19, 2020
The encounter was not without drama on-field and still served up some action atypical of a matchup of this magnitude in the league.
But, the victory is a small reprieve for Salisu’s men as the climb just a spot from their previous position to 16th in the table.
They still have three games in hand and could move to the top half of the table should they pick up maximum points.
Until then, the Antelopes will have to focus on finding their strides against high flying Rivers United, Dakkada FC and Lobi Stars in the next three fixtures.
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