As the AITEO Cup 2018 approaches its final destination of Asaba, Delta state, where next year’s CAF Confederation cup candidate will emerge, Rangers International F.C are set to brush aside the challenges of Nasarawa United F.C to pick the final ticket as both sides trade tackles in one of the semi-final matches fixed for Sani Abacha stadium, Kano.
The ‘Flying Antelopes’ are targeting their first final appearance in over a decade after they narrowly lost to now defunct Dolphins led by former Rangers great, Ifeanyi Onyedika in Lagos in the year 2007 while their opponents, Nasarawa United were losing finalist two seasons back.
Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote who guided his wards past a tricky quarter-final tie against defending champions, Akwa United where Rangers came from behind to tie the encounter at regulation time and went on to win on penalties 4-2 to qualify for this stage of the annual competition that is sponsored by oil giants, Aiteo while coach Kabiru Dogo’ wards relied on a late goal to send El-Kanemi Warriors F.C out of the competition in Aba on Thursday, October 4, 2018 in another quarter-final encounter.
In a chat after the semi-final qualification, coach Ogunbote said, “We thank God again for His divine favors. It was a tough match against the defending champions but I believe that if you want to be a champion, you must beat champions. Looking ahead to the semi-finals, we are not expecting anything less because as you progress, the competition becomes tougher and we are prepared to hold tight to our plans as our target remains hitting the finals and been crowned champions.”
“Nasarawa United we know is not a small team. We lost once to them in the league and were not able to pay them back in their own coin as the league ended abruptly. So, we have conditioned our minds towards stopping them on their tracks on Wednesday in Kano,” concluded the vastly traveled gaffer.
Captain of Rangers, Okechukwu Odita, who scored the equalizer against Akwa United said ahead the Nasarawa United match, “No two matches are the same but we are ready to defend the colors of Rangers with the last drop our bloods. The motivation is there and we are physically and mentally ready for the Nasarawa challenge. Surely, nothing good comes easy and we know this so we are re-doubling our efforts to see that we overcome Nasarawa on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 and head down to Asaba for another drink from the oldest trophy in the land.”
The ‘Flying Antelopes’, Saturday morning, at the Sani Abacha stadium, defeated Kano based armature side, Dorayi United F.C 1-0 in a practice match with Godwin Zaki converting a spot kick in the first half after a ball handling incident.
Rangers which last won the trophy over three decades back are pitched against the ‘Solid Miners’ from Lafia in one of the semi-final games while it would be a North-West regional derby as Katsina United trades tackles with Kano Pillars, ‘Sai Masu Gida’, winners of the delayed, quarter-final fixture against Enyimba International after a 4-2 demolition job, in Lagos.