Two goals from Enyimba defender, Ifeanyi Anaemena and another from Beninnoise midfielder, Jean-Marie Guera helped Enyimba FC beat visiting Enugu Rangers in a Nigeria Professional Football League[NPFL] MatchDay 17 encounter in Aba on Sunday evening.
Enyimba FC coach, Usman Abd’Allah, handed Jean-Marie Guera his first start at home in a packed midfield with the duo of Austin Oladapo and Farouk Mohammed completing the midfield trio. Coach Gbenga Ogunbote on the other hand, did not name attackers, Micheal Uchebo and Bright Silas but retained his captain, Godwin Aguda, in a much conservative lineup.
Enyimba, coming from an 11 match unbeaten run in the NPFL, were on the front foot from kickoff as they pried their opponents’ defence and found and opener when Ifeanyi Anaemena nodded a Thomas Zenke freekick past a hapless Nana Bonsu for Enyimba’s opener.
Enyimba, refusing to let the foot off the gas, kept pushing and got a second with a well taken counterattack after Thomas Zenke found Jean-Marie Guera in acres of space in the 18-yard box and his resultant shot was toe poked away from Nana Bonsu by a zealous Isiaka Oladuntoye for Enyimba’s second. The goal prompted a reply from the bench and Enugu Rangers responded with a 25th minute substitution with the brilliant Ifeanyi George thrown into the fray, which calmed the game. Enyimba almost got the third when a brilliant forward pass from Jean-Marie Guera found Abdulrahman Bashir but he dragged his shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Enyimba went into the break with a two goal lead which was halved almost immediately after the restart when a spirited Rangers attack that looked like a different team pulled one back after three quick tries. A good combination from Pascal Seka and Chiamaka Madu picked out Godwin Aguda and he shot a volley right into the top corner to send the fans into a real fear of a possible Rangers comeback.
The goal seemed to awaken Enyimba and they tried to reestablish their hold on the match which seemed to prove abortive. Ifeanyi Anaemena was on hand nod in an Enyimba goal again, this time directly from a Thomas Zenke corner, to restore Enyimba’s two goal cushion.
A couple of top saves from Afelokhai and also some resilient defending made sure Enyimba finished the game with the 3-1 scoreline to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games and condemn Enugu Rangers to a third consecutive defeat.
The result means Enyimba now trails Enugu Rangers by three points and sit firmly second on the NPFL group A table. The top three teams from both groups will participate in a Super 6 tournament to determine the outright winners and probable continental representatives.