Rangers unseat Manila Digger for 7s football title


Posted at Nov 29 2022 12:10 AM

Rangers coach and former UP Fighting Maroons striker Ayi Aryee. Handout
Rangers coach and former UP Fighting Maroons striker Ayi Aryee. Handout

Rangers Philippines went on the offensive with high-pressure defense and a relentless attack to score two goals in the first half, enough to hold off erstwhile champions Manila Digger for a 2-1 win in the AIA 7s Football Tournament men’s Division 1 championship at the McKinley Hill Stadium.

Ebere Juel opened the scoring in the ninth minute but Manila Digger equalized in the final minute of regular time after a strike by Ilemona Usman.

Both sides were scoreless in added time sending the match to a penalty shootout.

Rangers’ goalkeeper Junel Marasigan saved all the shots of Manila Digger while Olisa Anena banged in the title-clinching goal.

In ascending the summit of the 7s, Rangers, the fifth seat, defeated Middle Beast, 7-0, that was a notch above them in the quarterfinals. Then they booted out also erstwhile undefeated squad Sino FC in the semifinals in convincing fashion, 3-0.

The one goal they conceded to Manila Digger is their first they have allowed in the playoffs.

The superb defense of Rangers also saw them stop the prolific Stephen Appiah of Manila Digger.

Rangers goalkeeper Junel Marasigan was named the Most Valuable Player.

“He saved two penalties in the lead up to the finals,” noted observed team manager and former Kaya player Kross Ubiam. “As I said, once we get to the finals, we’ll be hard to beat.”

This was Rangers’ fourth title.

They scored 12 goals in three playoff games for an average of four per match.

“We were not favorites this season,” revealed Rangers Philippines head coach Ayi Aryee, who won two UAAP titles as a striker for the University of the Philippines. “We were regarded as veterans but a few things escaped their minds – football is played with experience and not just speed. A team must be tactical and disciplined to win games. And preparation is everything.”

“We peaked at the right time,” added Ubiam.

The new AIA 7s champions line-up includes Ebere Juel, Bolaji Idris, Stanley Edeme, Hassan Mohhamed, Forio Jonah, Junel Marasigan, Fidel Nnabuife, Charles Ujam, Olisa Anene, Femi Originde, Charles Muotouh, Idowu Ominisi, Bernard Ifeachor, and Mikael Lagard. The team is coached by former University of the Philippines striker Ayi Aryee and managed by Ubiam.

Manila Digger salvaged a measure of pride when their division three squad outscored Mangtas FC, 3-2, in their own finals.

The men’s division two finals saw Black Amigos win 4-2 over Resenha.