Given El-Kanemi’ pre-match boasts, Rangers went for the sledge hammer which they unleashed furiously on the visitors with Chisom Egbuchulam opening the scores on three minutes from the spot after an El-Kanemi player handled the ball inside the box.
The evening in Enugu would represent the most momentous football carnival in the history of Nigerian football with a multitude of joyous fans on hand to celebrate the return of Rangers to glory after 32 years. The atmosphere was indescribable with non-stop replays of Mexican waves and rendition of the club's anthem, 'Holy! Holy! Holy! Enugu Rangers, another champion.'
Rangers emerged champions of the 20-team Nigerian premier league amassing 63 points from 36 matches scoring 53 and conceding 37 goals with Chisom Egbuchulam who also broke an eight year old jinx of any player recording a hat trick while scoring 16 goals all season.
Formed in 1970, Sunday’s victory was Rangers’ seventh Nigeria domestic league title after previous successes in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982 and 1984.
Rangers coach, Imama Amapakabo, a goalkeeper in his playing days attributed the success of the team to hard work and some divine blessings.
Team manager Amobi Ezeaku in a chat with CAFOnline.com said: “It is really great to be champions again after such a long period. It was a result of diligence, hard work, cooperation amongst the players, coaches and management as well as dedication from our sponsors that led us this far. We hope to enjoy this while it last.
“We just want to enjoy this moment and hope for the best in next year’s CAF Champions League. I believe that we have learnt one or two lessons from the teams that have been representing Nigeria in the past and hope to build on the positives and make corrections from the mistakes they made so as to go as far as the finals of the CAF Champions League. We shall do all we can to retain the bulk of players that helped us to this feat because, we still have their contracts running and hope to have them renewed”.
On his part, captain Okey Odita, added: “I am overwhelmed. I really can’t describe the feelings. For me, it is a result of hard work, dedication to duty, collective beliefs and above all the hunger to make a name. I believe that we can do well in the continent and write our names in continental glory. I give God all the glory.”
Rangers’ top scorer Egbuchulam, while reacting, said, “I feel great. I am happy. God led us to this victory and we give Him all the praise. We have collectively achieved our set goal at the start of the season and hope to take this form to the continent next season. We pray that our team mate, Ifeanyi Egwim, recovers on time to join in the push for continental honours.”
The ‘Flying Antelopes’ as the coal city side is known last won the top club crown in Nigeria in 1984 under the guidance of Christian Chukwu.
Apart from ticket to represent Nigeria in next year’s CAF Champions League, Rangers received a prize-money of 40 million Naira (US$ 126,771).
Meanwhile, at the lower rung of the table were the quartet of Heartland FC, Warri Wolves, Ikorodu United and Giwa FC who are all relegated.