32 Years. That’s how long it took Rangers International to ascend the summit of Nigerian Football again. The Coal City side amassed a record 12 trophies in 10 years between 1974 and 1984, then descended into an abyss that turned them into the butt of jokes in Nigeria sports circles. Until Imama Amakapabo arrived in 2016, and changed the story.
A little over a year later, just months after putting Enugu back on the map of Nigeria League. Imama had to leave. But the former FIFA U17 World Cup Winner should hold his head up with pride, and here are the reasons why:
He brought order to the chaos at Enugu. It took a special case of disarray for the mightiest club in the land to fall into the type of despair that Rangers descended into. The team that stood over a nation like a behemoth, became second class citizen in its own region: Enyimba, Udoji United, Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Dolphins and even Bayelsa United, and Ocean Boys, were crowned League Champions while Rangers were in disarray. Amakapabo sorted out the mess around the Flying Antelopes, righted the mentality of the players, and won a title. All in one season.That is remarkable
The Rangers title win was a miracle. Imama delivered far above the mandate he was given. Nobody in Enugu thought he could deliver the title, no matter what anyone says. He probably did not think so himself. But when the chips were down, and the title was in sight, he homed in on it. Remember, Rangers had been in that ‘title-in-view’ situations several times in the past, it didn’t happen. Imama took them over the finish line in style. That was a miracle.
The Failure of Rangers is not his own, it is the system that failed. Imama was made the sacrificial lamb for a system collapse. The Management of the club, with the connivance of the state government (or vice versa) didn’t deliver on the promises made during and after the Championship run-in. Footballers all over the world thrive on rewards-for-results, once the promises were not redeemed, Rangers were guaranteed a one-way ticket to oblivion. No one should blame Imama for that.
Imamarima, onto the next one! Finally, the good work he did at Sharks, coupled with the excellent work with Rangers should ensure that his future is secure. He not only made history with Rangers, he changed the game. No coach can ever give the excuse of “needing more time” ever again. If Imama can change the story of a club in one season, it is possible!