Coach Gbenga Ogunbote has said self-belief and hard work helped Enugu Rangers to shade a tough NPFL clash against El Kanemi Warriors led by former Rangers coach Imama Amapakabo.
Kelvin Itoya came off the bench to score the match winner for home team Rangers after 80 minutes.
“It was a tough match and we thank God for the victory. It was a hard earned victory,” said Ogunbote.
“We expected it because when you (Imama) play against your former team, you want to do everything to prove a point, but all the same, it was a very good game.
“I was too sure that I was going to win the game even when it was still barren going into the last 10 minutes of the game.
“Hard work and self-belief have been the tonic been preached to the players going into more matches, but I must stress that this is a team still in the making.”
Goal hero Kelvin Itoya, who now have two goals in the campaign said, “I must thank God for giving us this victory.
“The goal is for all our supporters, management team and sponsors for their belief in us.”
El Kanemi coach Ernest Ezinwo said his team were simply unlucky in Enugu as they are also concerned about their position on the league table.
“Football can’t be adequately quantified as you may play a very good game, but end on the losing side and that was what happened,” he lamented.
“We were not lucky.
“And our current position gives us serious cause for concern, but I believe that soon we shall get it right.”
El Kanemi are bottom of the table on eight points from as many matches, while Rangers are now fifth with 13 points.
Itoya and Richard Jonathan were inspired substitutions when they were thrown into the fray on 50 and 60 minutes by Ogunbote as they brought speed, skill and urgency to the match.
But tried as much as they did, the Warrior’s backline stood their ground that would have fetched them a famous draw only for the individual brilliance of Itoya to down them.
He ran on to an Ugwu Uwadiegwu inviting cross at the edge of the visitors’ box, before he dribbled past a sea of tackling legs and fire past goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar on 80 minutes for the only goal of the match.
RANGERS TEAM: Femi Thomas, Brownbraye Okpus, Ugwu Uwadiegwu, Christian Madu, Semiu Liadi, Bright Silas, Abu Azeez (Richard Jonathan -60th min.), Godwin Zaki ( Ifeanyi George -75th min.), Solomon Okpako, Godwin Aguda (Kelvin Itoya – 50th min.).
SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Chibuzor Madu, Ugonna Anyora, Felix Ogbuke.
CAUTION: Solomon Okpako -85th minute, Christian Madu -90th minute
GOAL: Kelvin Itoya -80th minute.
EL-KANEMI TEAM: Adamu Abubakar, Innocent Gabriel, Ebuka Anaekwe, Razak Aliyu, Tchoanfine Pade, Lucky Erimuya, Bello Kofarmata, Mathias Samuel (Adebayo Odomusu -73rd min), Anthonio Dasusa (Hussaini Bata -80th min.), Sunday Anthony, Nuru Mohammed.
SUBS NOT USED: George Michael, Coulibally Solihu, Sixths Forsah, Ehis Kenneth, Isiaka Olawale.
REFEREE: James Amadin