Enugu Rangers head coach, Gbenga Ogunbote has revealed that his players’ determination to emerge as champions of the 2018 Federation Cup secured the morale-boosting semi-final ticket over the defending champions, Akwa United in Kano on Wednesday.
The five-time champions were behind in the first half stoppage time when Michael Ibe’s free-kick found its way into the back of the net for the Promise Keepers opener but the Flying Antelopes fought back gamely and they got the deserved equaliser through skipper, Okey Odita in the 71st minute.
Rangers zoomed to the semi-final after they emerged victorious 4-2 on penalties and Ogunbote who masterminded the win with the change of tactics in the second half disclosed that the confidence in their camp that they are aspiring for a sixth title made it easier for the players to give their all when they were behind.
“I think it was a good one for us and I will tag it a sweet victory for Rangers,” Ogunbote told Rangers media.
“The obvious is if you want to be a champion you must be ready to beat the champion and today by his grace we have been able to beat the defending champion and we are just two matches away from the trophy itself. I think everybody in Rangers is thinking towards the trophy and it makes it a little bit easier.
“When you get to the last eight you should not expect any easy game and you must get to sweat for any match you win. All we are looking at is taking the game one after the other. What we are looking at next is how to scale the hurdle of the semi-final.”
The former Sunshine Stars and Shooting Stars handler believes that his team were worthy winners because his players have vowed to him that they would avenge their loss to Akwa United during the league season where they nailed them 2-0 in Uyo and got a 1-1 draw in Enugu.
“There was no any magic if you watch the game very well. The mindset of the players was on a victory and even though they were behind we felt that Akwa United cannot stop us,” he continued.
“The players felt that it was time to avenge the defeat they suffered in the league to them. We set up the game in a way that would have been difficult for them to score and if not for the dead-ball situation that they mounted over our defence they won’t have scored.
“After their goal, we knew that we were condemned to equalize and that was why the players gave their all and we thank God that we got the reward for our hard work.”
FEDERATION CUP MEN'S QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS
Enugu Rangers 1-1 Akwa United (Rangers qualified 4-2 on penalties)
Kwara United 1-3 Katsina United
FEDERATION CUP WOMEN'S QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS
Bayelsa Queens 2-0 Osun Babes
Edo Queens 1-0 Confluence Queens
Rivers Angels 2-0 Sunshine Queens
Ibom Angels 1-0 Delta Queens