Rangers International F.C.
|Full name||Enugu Rangers International Football Club|
|Ground||Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium|
Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
|League||Nigeria Premier League|
Enugu Rangers, (also known as Rangers International Football Club or Enugu Rangers FC), is a Nigerian professional association football team. They are based in Enugu and play their home games at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium. Enugu Rangers are one of the three oldest clubs in Nigeria since their formation in 1970, the other two being Bendel Insurance and Kano Pillars.
They are the only Nigerian team never to have been relegated from the Nigeria Premier League.
Enugu Rangers were founded in 1970 and won a nationally organised tournament which allowed them to qualify for the 1971 African Cup of Champions Clubs. Rangers first international tournament ended in defeat in the quarterfinal rounds, losing 0–3 on aggregate to ASEC Mimosas.
Rangers lost the 1975 African Cup of Champions Clubs to Guinea's Hafia FC, earning left-back Silvanus Okpalla the nickname "Hafia" for his poor play in the final. Enugu had overturned a 3–1 defeat in Egypt in the semifinal to qualify for the final. Founding Ranger Ernest Ufele retired after the defeat.
International success finally came in 1977. The club, now managed by their first-ever captain Godwin Achebe, had lost several players to Ibo state when the new jurisdiction was created in 1976. In the quarterfinals, they were held to a goalless draw at home by defensively minded ASF Police of Dakar. Twenty minutes into the second half, Rangers took the lead, silencing the Senegal stadium, and won the game 2–1. After the game ended, Nigerian press noted the team was beaten by Senegalese fans, including three stabbed Rangers players. A military plane was flown to Dakar to evacuate the victors.
The 1977 semi-finals set up one of the greatest ties in Nigerian football history as Enugu were drawn against Shooting Stars. Rangers would go on to defeat Canon Yaounde 5–2 on aggregate in the final, including a 4–1 win on Nigerian soil.
The 1990s: lean years
Rangers joined the new fully professional league in 1990 and made cup final that year, losing to Stationery Stores on 5–4 on penalty kicks. They would not make another cup final appearance in the decade, and their best league finish was third in 1998.
Enugu topped the table after the 2001 home and away season but finished bottom of the four-team championship playoff group.
Enugu Rangers made the group stage of the 2004 CAF Confederation Cup and missed out on winning the group and making the final after losing a head-to-head tiebreaker to Asante Kotoko. Rangers drew 0–0 against Angola's Petro de Luanda and celebrated, thinking they had advanced on goal difference, but the first tiebreaker was head-to-head.
In 2008–09, they played some games in nearby Abakaliki and Nnewi as their stadium was renovated for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Before the season started, Enugu State governor Sullivan Chime paid the backlog of sign-on fees dating to three years ago and all other debts owed the players.
In November 2008, Rangers became the first Nigerian clubside to be a public company and sell ownership stock. However the deal fell through, and the club began the 2009 season in debt. The club is currently owned by the state government.
Enugu did begin a 12-year run of success in a minor trophy, the local state FA Cup, which they won every year from 2005 to 2017.
2016–current: Success again
After a 2015 season which nearly saw them relegated, Enugu won the 2016 Nigeria Premier League, their first championship since 1982. Closest challengers Rivers United needed Enugu to lose on the final day of the season, but Rangers won their game against El-Kanemi Warriors 4–0 to win the championship.
2017 saw Enugu struggle, dropping into the relegation zone halfway through the season. They recovered, finishing 14th and keeping alive their streak of never being relegated from the top flight.
The club went on to won their first Nigerian Cup in 35 years in 2018. Rangers stunned Kano Pillars, coming back from a 3–0 deficit to win the trophy on penalties. Ajani Ibrahim scored on a diving header two minutes into stoppage time to tie the game 3–3. Rangers played in the final five times from 1987 to 2007, never winning once.
In the first championship playoff clash on Wednesday, June 13, 2019, Enugu Rangers defeated FC IfeanyiUbah 4–2 in a six-goal thriller to secure a CAF Confederation Cup ticket.
- 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1984, 2016
- 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981, 1983, 2018
Performance in CAF competitions
The club had 7 appearances in African Cup of Champions Clubs from 1971 to 1985 and 3 appearances in CAF Champions League from 2006 to 2017.
- CAF Confederation Cup: 4 appearances
- CAF Cup: 2 appearances
- CAF Cup Winners' Cup: 2 appearances
Current first team squad
As of 30 December 2020
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Assistant Coach I
Assistant Coach II
GoalKeeper Trainer I
- [Victor Okoh]
GoalKeeper Trainer II
- [Norbert Okolie]
Former head coaches
- Daniel Anyiam (1970–72
- Godwin AChebe (1972–78)
- Roberto Diaz (1980–82)
- Denilson Custodio 1982
- Janusz Kowalik (1983–84)
- Kosta Papić (2002–3)
- Okey Emordi (2008)
- Christian Chukwu (2008 – Aug 09)
- Alphonsus Dike (Sept 2009–11)
- Okey Emordi (Feb 2012 – Oct 13)
- Imama Amakapabo (2015–17)
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