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We lost Heartland ‘Oriental Derby’ by ourselves, bad pitch – Coach Ugwu

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By Sab Osuji 

Rangers International NPFL title push suffered a huge setback in Owerri on Sunday following a shock 2-1 defeat by Heartland in a match day 33 fixture, Orient Sports reports. 

The result left coach Benedict Ugwu ruing their inability to grind out a fair result in the ‘Oriental Derby’. 

‘Surugede’, as he was fondly called by the Flying Antelopes horde of supporters, felt hard done by the result but only managed to come short of blaming his players for ‘unexpected’ outcome of the game.

Instead, the former El-Kanemi Warriors man pointed in the direction of ‘bad pitch’ and an ‘early injury’ that necessitated early substitution for the defeat which now poses a potential threat to their eighth domestic league title ambition. 

“This was a game we threw away by ourselves”, Ugwu lamented after the final whistle. 

“But again, the condition of the pitch did not allow us to express ourselves. 

“This is in addition to the early injury to one of our players which forced us into an early substitution”.

Rangers are seventh on the standings with only five matches still remaining on the 2020/2021 NPFL fixtures.

With Akwa United coasting home with six points clear at the top, followed by Nasarawa Utd, Rivers Utd, Kano Pillars, amongst others, Ugwu is clearly aware that their title ambition or a possible top three finish doesn’t look likely to come through for a continental berth next season.

But like a brave soldier that he is, Ugwu insists they won’t give but will fight till the end. 

“We will keep working till the end of the season as all hope for a continental ticket is not yet lost”.

On Wednesday, July 21, Rangers will welcome Kano Pillars at the Cathedral, Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu, a match Day 34 fixture.

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