Rangers squeeze past Jigawa to earn full marks

first_img Rangers gaffer, Salisu Yusuf made five changes to the starting squad that earned a priceless goalless draw in Uyo at the weekend and the hunger for goals was evidenced as the quartet of Ibrahim Olawoyin, Israel Abia, Dauda Madaki and Kenechukwu Agu combined well upfront but the visitors defended well to ward off the early raids. Coach of the visiting side, Gilbert Opana, expertly deployed his wards in a 3-5-2 formation that soaked all that was thrown at them with lone ranger upfront, Stone Samuel having little to do against Rangers duo of Uche John and Anthony Franklin in the heart of the defense. The first stanza came and went with only a few shots on target by the host despite dominating play but coach Salisu made early substitution in the second half that saw Ikechukwu Ibenegbu make way for Chinonso Eziekwe on 52 minutes to push the visitors further back into their defensive shells. With the game looking to end on a barren note, Uche John’ long kick from defense found Eziekwe whose massy runs gave him much room to locate ‘Fox in the box’, Olawoyin who outran two markers to lay perfectly for Madaki to curl home beyond a diving Paul Danjuma for the only goal of the encounter to send the fans into wild celebrations. Israel Abia and Chinoso Eziekwe both came close to adding their names on the score sheet within a space of two minutes after the opener but Danjuma did well to parry out Chinonso’ connecting header off an Osas Okoro’ corner kick on 71 minutes while Abia watched in awe as his shot that was heading into the bottom corner was clutched by the pint-sized shot stopper on 72 minutes. Dauda Madaki’s curly shot inside the box on 70 minutes off an Ibrahim Olawoyin’ weighted pass turned out to be the match-winner as Rangers International F.C continued their upward push in the NPFL 2019/2020 season after squeezing past Jigawa Golden Stars 1-0 in a rescheduled fixture. Assistant coach of Rangers, Mbwas Mangut said after the encounter, “We thank God for the victory as Jigawa proved a very tough nut to crack but our resilience and determination to win gave us the edge. We hope to keep working on the team even with injuries to some key players, we believe we shall deliver the goods as the season continues.” Coach Gilbert Opana, who is just two weeks with the Dutse based outfit said, “It was a good match from both sides that was determined by a single mistake which is inevitable in the game of football. My boys played well. The two teams are coming from behind and none wanted to give anything away in the fight to leave the uncomfortable position. Escaping relegation is a must for me and my team and I have no doubt we will escape.” Rangers will next, play host to Akwa United in a M.D 20 fixture inside the main bowl of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium on Sunday, February 16, 2020 with the match slated to kickoff by 4.00pm. read also:Rangers assure fans of steady rise to the top RANGERS TEAM: Japhet Opubo, Ifeanyi Nweke (Osas Okoro -68th min.), Emmanuel Nwokeji, Tony Shimaga, Uche John, Anthony Franklin, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu (Chinonso Eziekwe -52nd min.), Kenechukwu Agu, Dauda Madaki, Israel Abia (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -89th min.), Ibrahim Olawoyin. SUBS NOT USED: Femi Thomas, Christian Madu, Kehinde Adedipe, Tope Olusesi. GOAL: Dauda Madaki – 70th minute. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… Promoted Content5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme ParksAmazing Portraits Of Women As Zodiac Signs20 Completely Unexpected Facts About ‘The Big Bang Theory’8 Shows That Overstayed Their WelcomeThailand’s 10 Most Iconic LandmarksThe Very Last Bitcoin Will Be Mined Around 2140. Read MoreWhich Country Is The Most Romantic In The World?5 Of The World’s Most Unique Theme Parks7 Non-Obvious Things That Damage Your PhoneWho Is The Most Powerful Woman On Earth?8 Things About Ancient Egypt That We Don’t Yet Know11 Most Immersive Game To Play On Your Table Toplast_img read more

Hughes wants permanent Ireland deal

first_imgMark Hughes hopes midfielder Stephen Ireland will join Stoke on a permanent basis. Hughes said: “He’s done very well for us and we’re pleased with what he’s producing. “He’s out of contract at the end of the season and it’s fair to say I don’t think Stephen thinks his future lies at Aston Villa. He will be moving somewhere, ideally it would be to us.” Asked whether talks had taken place, Hughes said: “Only in passing, there’s been no official talks as yet. “Stephen’s enjoying his time here and it’s up to him to keep on playing well and impressing everybody here, which he has done up to this point.” Ireland will be ineligible when Stoke meet Villa at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, and Hughes faces being without both of his first-choice centre-halves. Robert Huth is definitely out while captain Ryan Shawcross picked up a slight groin problem during Wednesday’s Capital One Cup defeat by Manchester United. “Ryan hasn’t trained yet,” said Hughes. “We’re going to give him as long as we can. He’ll get a fitness test in the morning. “We’ve got lots of games coming up and if it means he just misses this one and we have him for the full Christmas period and beyond then so be it.” The former Manchester City playmaker is at the Britannia Stadium on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, where his contract runs out at the end of the season. Ireland has impressed in spells so far, particularly with a goal and an assist in this month’s 3-2 victory over Chelsea. Huth had initially been ruled out for three or four weeks following minor knee surgery at the start of this month but Hughes revealed he will definitely miss the whole of the Christmas period. The Stoke boss said: “He did really well the first couple of weeks. His progress has slowed a little bit this last week so we’ve just got to make sure we’re going at the right pace and we’re not going to push him too hard. “We need to make sure the knee is responding well to the work that we’re giving him. Marc Wilson’s come in and done really well so we can afford Robert more time than possibly we thought.” If Shawcross is unavailable, either Marc Muniesa or Geoff Cameron is likely to join Wilson in the centre, while strikers Peter Crouch (groin) and Jonathan Walters (ankle) are both slight doubts. Villa sit a point and two places ahead of Stoke in mid-table, with both teams struggling to find the net. Coincidentally, the sides have both failed to score in three of their last four games, winning the other one 3-2. Christian Benteke was the key figure in Villa’s successful fight against relegation last season with 23 goals but he has not scored for three months. Hughes said: “It’s maybe second-season syndrome. It’s probably a consequence of him bursting onto the scene and not too many of us knew too much about him. “He’s an outstanding football player and it’s taken a little bit of time for everybody to come to terms with his ability and what you do to try to stop his effectiveness. But he’s a quality player and at some point he’ll start scoring again. “I think there was some suggestion that he might be dropped but I wouldn’t put too much stall by that. He’s pivotal to how they want to play, he’s a focal point, and even if he’s not scoring, he’s certainly still of value to Aston Villa’s team.” Stoke have picked up five points from three games since a 4-0 thrashing by Everton and are unbeaten at home in the league since September. “It’s an important game for us,” said Hughes. “We were disappointed in midweek to go out of the League Cup obviously but there’s games one after the other and we’ve got an opportunity to get over the disappointment. “We want to keep our decent run going in the Premier League and keep our home form going.” Press Associationlast_img read more

Neil Danns explores music scene

first_imgBy Vishani RagobeerYOU know him as ace footballer for the ‘Golden Jags’ or even as Bury FC midfield player, but Neil Danns is intent on showing his versatility by exploring the music scene.“I’ve been studying music production and engineering for the last couple of years,” Danns told the Chronicle Sport in an exclusive interview, adding “I’m still learning and progressing but I’m only just starting to get the confidence to put it out.”Initially, the footballer connected with music as a pastime, even though he always had a passion for music and writing.“I started off playing guitar for a hobby when I was in my early 20s and I always liked to write poetry and melodies,” he reflected. And so his musical journey started off with him fiddling around and just writing simple chord songs just for his own personal listening pleasure.He taught himself how to play the piano over the past few years – nothing too fancy – but just enough to help him create his own music and depth to his skills.His desire to develop his musical ambitions has been insatiable, however, and resultantly, he tried learning music engineering. “It’s just been gradual building,” he said modestly.It’s not his aim to be an artiste, at least not for the most part. Instead, he is aiming to just write and produce music.“I hope to work with aspiring artistes in the future … and it would be amazing to collaborate with some top Guyanese artistes out there in the future,” Danns noted.But even so, he’s putting a few tracks out there, just so that people would know that he knows his stuff and he’s good at it. In fact, he’s currently making one of his tracks available on Spotify and iTunes; it’s called ‘What you thinking’ and will come under his alias: Melodix.“When people hear my stuff it’s mostly a shock as a lot of people do not realise I play any instruments but I’m still a long way from where I want to get to; but I enjoy learning and improving in everything I have passion for,” he affirmed. “It takes a lot of hours and can be frustrating but that’s what makes it worth it when you make positive steps.”His endeavours in music, however, do not sidetrack from his finesse in football. He’s been involved in the game – professionally- for about 20 years, and that’s just not something he can stop being involved in.Moving into the music scene fulltime is a possibility, but only after he considers what options present themselves once he is retired.But Danns’ musical ambitions will be put on pause for a bit, as he prepares for Guyana’s historic showing at next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.Danns will be a key figure for Guyana, when they face defending champs USA on June 18, followed by last FIFA World Cup debutants Panama on June 22 then Trinidad and Tobago on June 26.last_img read more

Odion Ighalo: Bids Super Eagles Bye?

first_imgNigerian players and officials to the 2018 World Cup may have packed their bag and baggage out of Russia after Super Eagles losst to Argentina in the final Group D game but the memory still lingers in the minds of soccer loving Nigerians and the last may not have been heard of what transpired in Russia. Heads will definitely roll and for some players, it may be the last time they will  put on the green and white shirt of the national team. With accusing fingers being pointed at the team’s striker, Odion Ighalo, the big question is whether the Watford of England striker would end up being the sacrificial lamb. Kunle Adewale in St. Petersburg, reportsBefore the kickoff of the World Cup in Russia, Odion Ighalo was full of optimism, hoping that he would be injury-free and do well for Nigeria.In a chat with THISDAY before the Mundial, the former Watford of England striker said: “With the support of my teammates I am optimistic that the team would go far considering the kind of preparation we have put in. We know what is at stake and we won’t disappoint, that’s just all I can say.  We are aware that we are in a tough group but we know what we must do to advance without pressure.”However, it was not to be as the Super Eagles failed to progress to the knockout stages of the 2018 World Cup – the third time in Nigeria’s sixth appearance at the biggest soccer fiesta.Like in every unsuccessful mission, the question about where things went wrong would always be asked and ‘Mission to Russia’ was no exception.After X-raying the team’s failure, Ighalo was found to be the most culpable, more especially after failing to convert any of the begging chances that came his way especially in the match against Argentina in which the Super Eagles needed only a draw to progress.The Yatai Changchun striker indeed admitted to having let the country down and was quick to tender his unreserved apology, saying: “I apologise to Nigeria. I apologise to my team-mates. I take responsibility for this game because if he had taken those chances I had that would have made it a different ball game.“It’s a sad day for me, the boys and the country because we went out in a bad manner and we deserved more in the game. We had a penalty in the game and another one which the referee did not give. I missed a couple of chances that would have finished the game but that’s football because sometimes you win and sometimes to lose.”What started as mere accusing fingers being pointed at him quickly turned to a death threat.The striker has received death threats following the opportunities he missed against Argentina in St. Petersburg before Marcos Rojo’s late strike ended the Gernot Rohrs’ side Russia campaign.The 29-year-old wrote: “For those who want to kill me, please – I am someone’s child. We did our best, but sometimes things don’t always go the way you want – but life has to go on.“Great experience to be at the World Cup, and I enjoyed every moment of it.”Remorseful Ighalo further said: “I understand how Nigerians feel, and I understand the frustration when you don’t come out of the field with the right result. It’s normal for people to criticise the coach and the players. We were building and rebuilding our team, and we had no faith in the team before he came. We lost to a team with Messi and other top players and we have learned from our mistakes.”“Ighalo wanted to score goals and make his name. Top players have also missed great chances in the tournament and we should not crucify him. Some of Ighalo’s goals and assists contributed to our World Cup qualification. We cannot because of one competition ask him to leave the national,” Super Eagles Coordinator, Patrick Pascal said.Speaking in the same vein, former Nigeria international and Super Eagles media officer, Idah Peterside, said football is a team’s game and that it should not be fair to single out one person when the team fails.“It takes collective responsibility for a team to win, so why one or two players should be singled out for blame when the team fails. The whole team took the glory when Nigeria defeated Iceland, not only the goal scorer (Ahmed Musa). Why is it now that we lost to Argentina that a player is being singled out for blame?“It is true we were all optimistic after Iceland’s victory and looking at it critically we didn’t play too badly, except for few errors which we paid dearly for. All we needed do now is looking forward to how to improve on the present squad and start preparation in earnest for the coming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, rather than wasting time and energy on the blame game,” the former goalkeeper cum pastor concluded.In a separate interview before the World Cup, Ighalo was said to have warned his teammates not to be carried away by the team’s smooth sail during the qualifiers and the recent 4-2 victory recorded against South American giant-Argentina, as such successes could have an adverse effect on the team in the competition proper.“Naturally, such feat should be a morale booster to the team with the World Cup just a few months away but it could also have a ripple effect as the team might get carried away by such achievements at the competition proper. We should just put behind those little successes and focus properly on what is coming ahead of us if we really want to do well in Russia,” Ighalo told THISDAY.The striker indeed admitted that the recent victories recorded by the team had taken away the ‘underdog’ tag Nigeria would have enjoyed at the World Cup. “Now, we are the team to beat. We are now like the proverbial golden fish with no hiding place,” he noted then. Ighalo’s position in the Super Eagles was initially threatened when Rohr was quoted as saying that “only three China-based Nigerian players would make it to the World Cup (which he later denied) after shutting out Ighalo and other China-based players in the two friendlies against Senegal and Burkina Faso.“It’s very difficult to monitor the players in China. Also, I was satisfied with the performances of the young players I have been working with for the past two weeks in France and that was why we decided to keep this group,” Rohr said.A further threat to Ighalo’s position to the Mundial after the German-born manager expressed his disdain over the lack of decisive strikers in the Super Eagles fold during the team’s double-edge friendlies against Poland and Serbia, culminating to the extension of an invitation to ‘old warhorse’, Obafemi Martins.The Franco-German tactician expressed his willingness to increase his striking options as the team continues to build up for the World Cup, maintaining that Martins and other Nigerian strikers who are hoping to be part of the World Cup party would have to be playing and scoring consistently to earn a call-up and Martins, who plays for Shanghai Shenhua fits into that category, having helped his club to win the Chinese FA Cup last November, beating rival Shanghai SIPG, with the 33-year-old scoring in both matches of the two-legged final.He scored the only goal in his team’s 1-0 first leg victory and also got their second goal in the return leg which finished 3-2 in favour of SIPG.“Yes, the door is open to all our best players, including Martins.He is scoring a lot of goals and we need to get competition for all the positions, especially centre-forward.  We have a lot of opportunities for the strikers, and so Martins, if he is scoring goals, will be welcome,” Rohr had said.However, just when many were thinking that Obagol might be part of Super Eagles party to Russia as all directions were turning towards him to help solve the team’s inability to hit the target, the injury came knocking.There is no doubt that heads would role at the end of the World Cup as some officials and players, if not coaches would be made the sacrificial lamb.The big question on the lips of observers therefore is, have we seen the last of Ighalo in the Super Eagles shirt in Russia.Ighalo was born on June 16, 1989. He started his career at Prime FC and later moved to Julius Berger and in 2007, he moved to Lyn in Norway. A year after was signed by Udineze of Italy but was loaned out to Granada in Spain, before signing for Watford in 2014.Last year, he moved to Changchun Yatai in China for a fee of £20m.In March 2015, after a series of strong performances for Watford, the then newly appointed Super Eagles interim coach, Daniel Amokachi invited Ighalo to the senior national, and he said then, “I feel good because it is my dream to play for my country.”With death threat hanging on his neck, it remains to be seen if he still feels good playing for his country.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more