Rangers International of Enugu, may have conquered their opponents last season to become the Nigeria Premier Football League champions, but the Enugu Antelopes have not been able to reenact that magic wand that saw them display such gusto this season.
With 12 defeats and 10 draws that have seen them struggling this time around to avoid relegation, it is obvious now that the team will never attempt the first spot any more.
But the team’s dependable defender, Etim Matthew identifies strong team opposition rather than internal troubles as their main problem.
Rangers began their title defence with a defeat at home on the opening day.
And with five games to end the 2016/2017 League season, Rangers are 15th on the log having lost 12 matches with 43 points to show for their effort.
He puts it all down to stronger challenge mounted by other NPFL teams that may have resolved not to allow the Flying Antelopes repeat the run that saw them end a 32-year wait for the title.
“The season has been tougher for us as reigning champions because teams have taken us more serious after we ended a 32-year wait and lifted the trophy last season.”
Matthew posited that it has been so because other teams stepped up their performances on matchdays whenever they are scheduled to play the Flying Antelopes.
He, however, did not say if that meant that Rangers all through the concluded matchdays did not realise they also needed to raise their game.