Nigeria’ Total/CAF Confederation cup 2019/2020 hopeful, Rangers International F.C of Enugu will be departing the shores of the country on Thursday, September 12, 2019 for the Gabonese capital, Libreville for the first leg, first round encounter with competition’ first timers and runners-up of 2019 Gabon Championnat National Division 1, Association Sportive Pelican, confident of a fruitful outing.
After drawing bye in the preliminary round due to its good run in last edition of the competition, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ with some fresh and experienced campaigners in continental football in its fold look set to shock the Gabonese side that eliminated D.R Congo side, A.S Maniema Union 4-2 on penalties after aggregate score over two legs of the stage stood at 2-2 as both games ended in 1-1 draw.
Under care-taker manager and former defense lynch pin, Coach Benedict Ugwu, who was in the coaching crew last season, the seven time Nigeria league champions have their work cut out at Stade D’Angondje, Libreville, Gabon as youthful gaffer of the host, Gidas Arnold Ndoumou line up his wards that have conceded a goal in each of their last four games in all competitions.
With talents like experienced campaigners in Ikechukwu Ibenegbu and Uche John as well as power playing Nnamdi Egbujuo and Obinna Eleje joining forces with Ifeanyi George in attack and Tony Shimaga screening the backline where Isiaka Oladuntoye and Senegalese international, Pape Ousmane Sane hold sway to provide enough coverage for the man between the sticks, the ‘Flying Antelopes’ look set to fly higher above the Pelicans.
After winning eleven and losing one in pre-season friendly games as well as a weeklong close camping exercise in the serene, Nanka community of Orumba-North LGA of Anambra state, the squad seem to have blended with the new players getting accustomed to the ‘Never Say Die’ playing philosophy of Rangers which will be on display in this encounter.
Coach Ugwu said on the fixture, “I have a strong belief that with the talents at our disposal and the training regime we have gone through in the pre-season, we shall come back with a good result by God’ grace. We don’t know much of our opponent but our preparations have always been to play against any opponent. Surely, it won’t be easy as there are no more ‘Small’ teams in the game. They did well in the preliminary round but I believe that we have all it takes to stop them in this round.”
Also speaking, experienced continental campaigner who have at various times featured for Warri Wolves, Heartland and Enyimba International as well as distinguished himself in Nigeria’ Beach Eagles team, Ikechukwu Ibenegbu ‘Mosquito’, said, “We are not going to Libreville to watch the beauty of the city but to ensure we get a good result that will make the return leg in two weeks time a mare formality.
As a new player in Rangers, I hope to bring my experience of playing on the continent for over a decade to bear, if selected by the coach, to help us achieve our set target for the season. Rangers is a very big team in the continent and my joining them is to contribute my little quota towards making it a continental champion again after over four decades.”
Youthful midfield maestro who has seamlessly filled the void after Ugonna Uzochukwu’ exit from the side, said, “We have a very compact squad that can hold its own against any side. I have the belief that with the caliber of players recruited by management, we shall surpass what we were able to achieve last season.
Our fans out there should continue their prayers for us as we hope to come back with a very good result.”
Going into this encounter, Rangers coaches would be spoilt for choices going forward as is evidenced in the number of goals scored in the pre-season games netting forty-one goals while conceding six which is enough confidence booster for the ‘Flying Antelopes’ and this was amply captured by new boy, Nnamdi Egbujuo.