By Abubakar Hassan


Ibrahim Babawo of Niger Tornadoes

A 17th-minute strike by Ibrahim Babawo was all that Niger Tornadoes needed to edge over the 2015/2016 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions, Rangers International Fc of Enugu in a high tensed matchday 16 at the Late Bako Kontagora Stadium, Sunday.

Ibrahim Babawo reacted quickly to follow up and tap into the back of the net the winner after Rangers shot stopper, Nana Bonsu spills Reuben Ogbonnaya’s free-kick shot.

The trio of Ibrahim Babawo, Bashar Usman and John Kim former player of Plateau United who got his debut for the Minna Landlords in the game were enterprising at the upfront but could not break the Flying Antelope’s backline marshalled by the duo of Okey Odita and Chibuzor Madu.

Tornadoes had a more attacking sense in the second half of the encounter, particularly with the introduction of Ammar Abdulkarim who came in for retiring John Kim, forcing Rangers Ghanian goalkeeper import, Bonsu to make over four top-class saves in between the sticks.

The high tensed encounter saw some explosive moments from both teams in both the first and second stanza of the game, but that could not change the cause of the game, as the host got their day with thanks to a spill from Bonsu and quick reaction of Ibrahim Babawo.

Rangers Coach, Gbenga Ogunbote in a post-match interaction with the sports’ writers attributed his wards’ 1-0 loss to the Ikon Allah Boys in a Match Day 16 NPFL encounter to a loss of concentration from his boys.

“It was a good game but we lost the game as a result of a moment lost of concentration. We came to Minna with the aim of winning the game or at least pick a draw. This indeed is a temporary setback to us. 

“We shall go back to correct some of the mistakes we made today in our next match and get our groove back,” said Ogunbote the former Enyimba gaffer.

While Niger Tornadoes interim Coach, Hamza Abdulazeez Abara  who could not hide his joy for the victory gave kudos to his boys, as he salute the resilience of the visitors, saying they are a good team.

“I am overwhelmed with the result we achieved today. I thank my players for giving me this victory today as Rangers is not a small team. 

“I believe I am the youngest coach in the Nigeria league today, and for that, I don’t like to talk too much, I want my performance to speak for me. I hope to do more for the good of the club and I appreciate the support the team is enjoying from soccer-loving Nigerlites,” Coach Hamza Abara said.

Coach Hamza made two other substitutions as Segun Alebiosu also came in for injured Ibrahim Babawo, while Ahmed Liman came in for Uche Onuwasonnaya. And on the part of Rangers International, Ogunbote introduced Chiamaka Madu, Abu Azeez and Papi Ousamane to replace Ugonna Anyora, Kelvin Itoya and Chibuzor Madu respectively.

Niger Tornadoes had gone six-match unbeaten since the return of the team to Bako Kontagora Stadium, Minna and under the tutelage of Coach Hamza Abara.

The team currently occupied the 5th position on the log with 23 points from 15 matches. The team will be guest to Go Round Fc of Imoku, Rivers State, in the matchday 17 fixture of NPFL.