Former Rangers manager, Gbenga Ogunbote was warmly welcomed by spectators at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu on Sunday when he filed out his team, Lobi Stars, in their opening match of the maiden edition of the Tico Select/Ifeanyi Ekwueme Preseason Tournament against Godosky FC, Completesports.com reports.
Lobi Stars prevailed 5-1 following Sikiru Alimi and Ikechukwu Samson’s brace apiece, with Achiv Douglas scoring the other. Chimereuche Samuel scored Godosky’s consolation goal.
It was Ogunbote’s first visit to the Coal City after joining Lobi Stars for the new season following his successful two season stint with the Flying Antelopes.
“I’m delighted with the show of love by the fans. I enjoyed every moment of my two years here working with Rangers,” Ogunbote said.
“We played in the continent in those two years. Rangers is a big club.
“I wish them the best in their continental engagement this season.”
Six teams, including two NPFL sides, Lobi Stars and Delta Force, are taking part in the Rico Select Ifeanyi Ekwueme Preseason Tournament.
Others include Goddosky Football Academy, Nnewi (owned by Temple Moneke), Inga’s FC, Enugu, Udala FC Awka and Ifeanyi Ekwueme Football Academy.
Tico Select is a Polish sportswear Manufacturing outfit with Ekwueme as their African representative.
“The whole idea is to get the teams in good shape for the coming season. Products of Tico Select are second to none as you can see in the match balls and jerseys,” Ekwueme who is the Sporting Director of Heartland FC said.
“We are making appreciable inroad into the Nigerian market and Africa in general and hopefully, we look forward to a better edition next season.”
Mike Idoko, chairman of Lobi Stars executive board commended the organisers for providing such opportunity to help teams prepare for the new season.
“This is our second week of preparation since we reassembled after our exit from the continent last season,” Idoko said.
“We are impressed with the players’ response. No team is a minnow these days. We are still rebuilding, I appreciate the coach and his backroom staff and the players.
“We have a sizeable number of new young players and for the coach to have reduced the number is not an easy task.
“However, we are grateful to the organisers for this opportunity”.
Mbwas Mangut, technical adviser of Delta Force was no less humble in victory as he equally commended Udala FC for giving his side a good test.
Delta Force won the game 3-1, which was the second match of the day.
“They are young and physically strong. In the first half they put us under pressure, but we had to respond in the second period,” Mangut said.
By Sab Osuji