Rangers start Champions League on good note


Pius Ayinor

Enugu Rangers kicked off their CAF Champions League campaign on a good note forcing hosts JS Saoura of Algeria to a 1-1 draw in a preliminary round first leg match played Friday night. The Nigerian league champions who faced a vociferous crowd pulled the big result against such odd.

The return leg will be played in Enugu next weekend.

The line up was a tough call for Rangers. With Fortune Omoniwari unable to make the trip to Algeria, coach Imama Amapakabo used the same starting team that lost 0-1 to FC Ifeanyiubah in their Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) on February 5.

JSS expectedly piled pressure on their guests right from the kick off and midfielder Abderrahmane Bourdim gave them team the lead after just 32 minutes off a quality free kick. And it became JS Saoura’s first-ever goal in the CAF Champions League. But the celebration did not last for long as Rangers Bobby Clement scored the equaliser six in the 38th minute following a defensive slip with an assist by Chinedu Udegha.

And in the 43rd minute, Clement should have made it 2-1 for Rangers but his attempt at goal deflected for a corner kick. The teams soon went for the break and continued with the goals search at resumption.

Rangers replaced Osas Okoro with Daniel Etor in the 75th minute and Clement was later replaced by fellow striker Ocheme Edoh.

In the second half, the Nigerians mainly relied on counter attacks against the home team and held on to the last whistle.

Amapakabo said after the match that it was too early to celebrate as the game was still very open.

Rangers will play hosts to JS Saoura on February 19.