Kwara United recorded their first victory after taking over Delta Force with a 1-0 win against Rangers at the Kwara Sports Stadium in Ilorin on Sunday.
Christopher Nwanze scored the only goal inside 50 seconds of play from a goalmouth scrambling via a corner kick. Seka Pascal would have levelled the score for the visitors in the 15th minute but nodded wide from Osas Okoro’s perfect cross.
Kwara United’s brilliant attacking move in the 17th minute was thwarted by Uche John who tracked back with high speed to deny the hosts another goal.
In the 24th minute, Rangers broke from a poorly taken corner kick by Kwara United but Christopher Nwanze tracked back to rebuff the visitors.
Kwara United’s Afolabi Abdulwaheed would have doubled the lead for the hosts in the 26th minute but Nana Bonsu was in the right position to deal with the effort.
On the half-hour mark, Henry Ochuba sent a long ball behind the Rangers defence but Joshua Agboola couldn’t finish well as he played poorly to Bonsu to deny the home team again.
Rangers striker, Seka Pascal, went down in Kwara United’s box in the 35th minute and appealed for a penalty but the centre referee waved play on.
Issah Saidu troubled the Rangers defence in quick succession in the 49th and 50th minutes but there was no Kwara United player in the Flying Antelopes’ box to tap home one of his crosses but won a corner kick for the home team instead.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute when the centre referee showed Obinna Eleje a straight red card after headbutting a Kwara United player.
Seven minutes later, Rangers head coach Salisu Yusuf, made tactical changes to his team with the introduction of Dauda Madaki and Ibrahim Olawoyin in the 60th and 62nd minutes respectively.
The changes brought live to the Flying Antelopes with mesmerising display by Olawoyin who tormented Kwara United’s defence every time Rangers poured forward.
Yusuf’s side continued to put pressure on the hosts as they enjoyed more possession and were always dangerous and purposeful going forward limiting Kwara United’s chance to double the lead.
Kwara United with few chances in the second half had another opportunity to add to the tally when Afolabi Abdulwaheed rose above everyone in the Rangers’ box but a cool and calm Bonsu saved with ease his headed attempt in the 74th minute.
The spectators surprisingly applauded Rangers forward Seka Pascal when he made way for Ifeanyi Okoro in the 78th minute.
Kwara United’s Ejeh Isaiah called Bonsu into action in the 87th minute when the Ghanaian stretched to the limit to deny him from a long-range. Speaking after the game, Kwara United head coach, Abdullahi Biffo said he told the players to forget the position of the club on the log and get the maximum points at stake against Rangers.
“We see this game as our first match in the league. We took over about three weeks ago and we were unable to register our own players. “I told the players to forget the position on the log because if they do, they will play with anxiety.
“Rangers is one of the best teams in the country, that was what brought the tension. With this victory, the confidence will come back to the boys,” Biffo said.
Yusuf said his boys gave Kwara United the goal because they were not concentrating in the early stages. The Rangers coach who described the goal as a good one explained that he will continue to build the team to the delight of the Flying Antelopes fans.
“You can see the team is building and coming up stronger. “We will use the present transfer window to fortify the team to make it stronger,” Yusuf said. When asked if the red card made a difference, the former Enyimba coach said with 11 men you can lose but “we controlled the game even with 10 men.” Kwara United will now face Warri Wolves in their next game in Warri on Sunday, December 29