• As Rangers get crown after 32-year wait
By George Aluo
Holy, holy, holy, holy, Enugu Rangers another champion!
This special song above is, no doubt, what would rent the air tomorrow at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu an arena that has since been nicknamed “The Cathedral,” when Rangers play host to “home specialist” El Kanemi Warriors.
The encounter is one of the games that would draw the curtain in this season’s league season.
The atmosphere from all indications would be more of a carnival, given the fact that Rangers would after the game be crowned Nigerian league champions after a trophy less run of 32 years.
The only thing that would change things is if the Flying Antelopes tutored by Super Eagles assistant coach, Imama Amakapabo are beaten 2-0 by the Warriors and second position placed Rivers United hammer Akwa United 5-0 in Uyo.
As it stands, all Rangers need is one “top up point” from the game against El Kanemi after which the party can begin.
Amakapabo said after their 2-1 away victory last weekend in Abeokuta over Ikorodu United that the team won’t take anything for granted until after the Elkanemi game.
“Yes, people can rightly saw we have won the title after this all important away victory over Ikorodu United, but we will delay the party until after the very last game. We will remain focused and get the job done against El Kanemi,” Amakapabo said.
Just like last year when Kano Pillars got their trophy right on the pitch after their last game against Enyimba at the Enyimba Stadium in Aba, Rangers are to get the trophy immediately after the match, should they beat or draw with Elkanemi.
Organizers of the league, the LMC are taking the trophy to Enugu and Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi would be handing over the trophy to Rangers captain.
Ugwuanyi, it would be noted, has thrown his weight behind Rangers, especially towards the end of the season when signs that the club could go all the way starred emerging.
The governor in a bid to motivate the team promised the players N3m for every victory, while the gates were thrown open to the fans when they hosted Sunshine Stars a fortnight ago.
When the story of how Rangers broke their 32-year-old trophy jinx is told, the role played by the fans must be mentioned. The Flying Antelopes right from the very first match of the season enjoyed unprecedented support from their teeming supporters. When the LMC introduced Friday night games, Enugu was a beauty to watch, especially the day Rangers played host to Heartland in an Oriental battle. Many who saw the game on television wondered if it was a Nigerian league match.
Interestingly the supporters also behaved when results didn’t go their way at home. Against Heartland, Lobi and 3SC, The Flying Antelopes drew at home with the fans leaving the arena cheering the visitors. Rangers all through the season didn’t run into trouble with the LMC that came hard on teams whose supporters won’t take home defeat.
Clubs like Sunshine, Heartland, MFM, Warri Wolves, Kano Pillars had to play behind closed doors during the season, no thanks to the unruly behavior of their fans, while Giwa on account of that out rightly lost their place in the league.
As Enugu comes alive tomorrow, the LMC and Enugu FA must ensure the match goes hitch free. Last season supporters of Kano Pillars messed up the trophy presentation ceremony in Aba. The LMC must avoid a repeat of the Aba show of shame, if things go Rangers way as expected at the Cathedral.