Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) defending champions Rangers International FC started the 2016/2017 season on a faltering note yesterday, losing 1-2 to neighbours Abia Warriors at the Cathedral in Enugu.
The Flying Antelopes drew the first blood through new buy, Fortune Omoniwari ten minutes into the game, before Emeka Isaac’s deflected effort leveled terms for the visitors midway through the first half.
However, in the 72nd minute, Godwin Zaki got the winner from a penalty after Chibuzor Madu handled the ball inside the area.
Rangers had similarly lost the Charity Cup that is the league season opener to Federation Cup champions, IfeanyiUbah last Wednesday at the patchy Abuja National Stadium.
Elsewhere, newly promoted Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) FC shocked Akwa United FC with a 3-1 win at the Kwara Township Stadium. Mohammed Mohammed had given the home side the advantage on the 12th minute, before Godspower Igudia headed home the equaliser for the visitors, seven minutes later.
Stone Evbuomwam restored ABS’s advantage at the half hour mark from a penalty, before Abubakar Chindo capitalised from a defensive blunder to put the game behind the Promise Keepers from Uyo.
In Lagos, three first half goals from Olatunbosun Sikiru, Odey Stephen and Adekunle Adegboyega was enough for Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Football Club to record it’s first 3-0 home win of the season against Niger Tornadoes at the Agege Township Stadium.
The Lagos-based team thrilled their fans with sumptuous display of their tiki-taka brand of football as they recorded the biggest win of the Match Day 1 of the new season.
Coach Fidelis Ilechukwu and his wards will travel to Nnewi to face FC IfeanyiUbah
on Wednesday in Match Day 2.
At the Lekan Salami Stadium, goals from Afolabi Waheed and Sunday Faleye helped Shooting Stars to a comfortable 2-0 win against visiting Lobi Stars while in Calabar, Ibrahim Mustapha’s solo effort was all seven time champions, Enyimba International needed to dispatch a determined Sunshine Stars of Akure.
It was the People Elephant’s ground testing fixture on their adopted stadium, having dumped Liberation Stadium that hosted their fixtures last season.
It remains to be seen when the Enyimba International Stadium will be ready to accommodate the teeming supporters of the former African Champions starved of action on their home turf for the second season on the trot.
Goals from Guy Kuemian and new signing from relegated Heartland, Emeka Ogbuh helped Rivers United to a 2-1 win at home to El-Kanemi Warriors. Bello Kofarmata got visitor’s consolation goal deep into added time.
Plateau United handed newcomers, Remo Stars their first baptism in the top flight with a hard fought 2-1 win at Sagamu while Wikki Tourists and Nasarawa United shared the spoils in Bauchi.
Earlier on Saturday, the new season started on a bizarre note in Kano with IfeanyiUbah FC players abandoning the flagship match of the 2016/17 NPFL season against Kano Pillars.
In all, twenty two goals, seven home wins and two away victory characterised match-day one.