Norbert Okolie (ADDIS ABABA): It was another come-from-behind win for the reigning Nigeria Aiteo Cup champions, Rangers International F.C as the coach Olugbenga Ogunbote tutored side defeated Ethiopian cup champions, Defence Force S.C 3-1 in the second leg, preliminary round of Total/CAF Confederation cup 2018/2019 to make it a double over the East Africans for a 5-1 aggregate win.
Dibaba Wendimu steeled his nerve to send Rangers shot stopper, Nana Bonsu the wrong way from the penalty spot on the third minute of play after a handball incidence was spotted by the referee.
The host continued to pressure the backline of visitors in search of more goals as their vociferous fans cheered them on but the duo of Akpos Adubi and Semiu Liadi held out on the day.
As the match wore on, Rangers gradually settled into the game and pushed back the host but were unlucky not to have leveled up before the 36th minute when Bright Silas slammed home an inviting cross from Isaac Loute.
On 40 minutes, Godwin Aguda dusted himself after he was upended in the box to slot home from the spot for Rangers second goal of the day.
Ajani Ibrahim came close to extending the lead with only a few seconds to end the first half but Beyene Yidnekachew did enough to push it out to safety.
On resumption of the second half, the host started the way they did the first with Fikadu Gadissa, Firew Ayele and Dawit Asfaw pulling the strings in the middle of the pack but could not do much in the third half of the pitch as Ugonna Uzochukwu and Chiamaka Madu had the defense line well screened.
Super-sub, Kelvin Itoya was thrown into the fray with only twenty minutes left on the clock and his combination with Ajani Ibrahim and Bright Silas came to a devastating effect as his cheeky shot inside the opponent’s vital area sailed unhindered into the net for Rangers’ third goal of the day on 79 minutes.
Rangers coach, Olugbenga Ogunbote said at the post match conference, “First of all, we thank God for the victory against a good side that loves to keep the ball but failed to do the needful when it mattered.
Experience gave us the edge knowing that we came here with a two goals lead and conceding very early gave us cause for some concern but we gradually came into the match and got the result we needed.
Defence Force is not a bad side but we did well to take most of our chances while they did not. Looking ahead, we hope to make corrections in the areas noticed before our next match.”
Captain of the side, Okey Odita, said, “It was a good game and we thank God for the victory. We played against a good side but we showed experience that took us above them.”
With this result, the seven time Nigerian league champions have qualified for the first round of the competition and await the winner between Algerian and Liberian champions in less than two weeks.