It has now been confirmed. Rangers and Rivers United will slug it out in the final of the 2nd Ifeanyi Ekwueme Tico/Select Preseason Tournament in Enugu on Wednesday morning.
It will be recalled that Rangers were the first to book a spot in the final after amassing maximum points from two games on Monday to finish top of Group A.
Rivers United followed suit with a 1-0 victory over Goddosky on Tuesday. Having beaten Ingas FC 3-0 on Monday, the Pride of Rivers sustained a hundred percent record in Group B.
But they were made to sweat by Goddosky in Tuesday’s first game. The game had been so keenly contested but just as both teams were primed for a share of the spoils, Goddosky’s Edwin Ayaba lost his cool, elbowed Rivers United midfielder Cletus Emotan and got sent off in the 82nd minute.
United made the extra man count and piled on the pressure. Then in the 90th minute, Fortune Omoniwari flicked on the ball for Malachi Ohawune to stab home.
The result set up a mouthwatering final between the two NPFL teams in the tournament. CAF Confederation Cup hopefuls Rivers United are the only team yet to concede a goal in the tournament. But this will be well tested against Rangers International’s resilience and strength in depth.
With the two finalists settled, there was still all to play for as the other teams battled for places in the third-place match.
In Tuesday’s second game, NNL-campainers Apex Krane forced PXEL Football Academy to a 1-1 draw to finish second in Group A.
Going into the game, Apex needed a draw to advance on goals difference while PXEL must win.
It all seemed to be going PXEL’s way when Fidelis Okafor finished off Emejuru Fumnanya’s exquisite cross in the 15th minute but the Isele-uku-based club’s profligacy in front of goal was punished when, against the run of play, Moses Idoko levelled up for Apex in the 78th minute.
The day’s last game between Ingas and Goddosky in Group B ended 1-1. A result that was enough to give Goddosky the edge on goals difference.
Chiedozie Okorie had given Ingas the lead before Emma Eze equalised for Goddosky in the closing minutes.