Players of Enugu Rangers players celebrate a goal. Will they celebrate over Kano Pillars in tomorrow’s Aiteo Cup final?

• Praises players, Davidson Owumi for Aiteo Cup victory
Former Green Eagles goalkeeper and member of the great Enugu Rangers side that won the FA Cup competition three times in the mid-1970s, Emmanuel Okala, says the team’s performance against Kano Pillars in Wednesday’s Aiteo Cup final in Asaba was a sign of many good things to come.

Okala kept goal for Rangers from the mid-70s when they won the National Challenge Cup for an unprecedented three years in a row (1975-1977). In all, Rangers have won the FA Cup six times, and Okala played a part on five occasions. He won it four times as a goalkeeper and once as Team Manager/Goalkeeper Trainer.

Okala was among the spectators that cheered Rangers to victory at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Wednesday, where the club made one of the greatest comebacks in Nigerian football history, overcoming a 0-3 deficit to conquer Kano Pillars in the Aitea Cup final.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, an elated Okala said the manner in which the Flying Antelopes got the victory on Wednesday would make them prepare well for their continental challenge. “The Rangers I saw in Asaba can bring back those good memories in Nigerian football.”

Okala, a key figure in Rangers continental conquest in the African Winners Cup in 1977, singled out the club’s General Manager, Davidson Owumi, for praise in the Aiteo Cup victory. “I always see Owumi as one of the greatest managers in Nigerian football. He proved his worth again on Wednesday in Asaba by using his experience to turn things around when so many supporters of the club had lost hope. Though the coaches and players did their best on the field, but I think Owumi did the job from behind the scene.

“The way he addressed the players with calmness even when they were two goals down showed a lot of maturity. The players respect Owumi a lot, and I am happy they did not disappoint him. He is a great manager of men and materials. I hope the state government will compensate the club very well for this great feat. He should spend more money on Rangers for more results to come,” Okala stated.

Also speaking with The Guardian yesterday, former goalkeeper, David Aigbovo, who led Shooting Stars of Ibadan to victory in 1992 CAF Cup campaign, said that Rangers deserved the victory, just as he blamed Kano Pillars for believing they had won the trophy in the first half.


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