Players and officials of Nigeria’ Aiteo cup champions and seven-time league champions, Rangers International F.C the ‘Flying Antelopes’ have set a high target for themselves as they kick start the challenge of winning the Total/CAF confederation cup with a first round, preliminary round date against Ethiopian side, Defence Force S.C.
After a not too impressive show last time out on the continent that saw the Enugu side exit the second tier continental competition after dropping from the more glamorous, CAF Champions league, the current management of the team led by Prince Davidson Owumi is leaving no stone unturned in pushing as far as the competition can go.
Despite the shortness of time in acquiring new quality legs to beef up the side and blend with the retained players, vastly travelled gaffer, Coach Olugbenga Ogunbote is optimistic of leading his ‘Six Star Generals’ to an emphatic win in Enugu to make the reverse fixture a mere formality.
With a backline anchored around teenage sensation, Akpos Adubi and hard tackling Senegalese defence marshal, Ousmane Sane with adequate backup from Semiu Liadi and ever reliable skipper of the side, Okey Odita, the Nigerian cup champion can boast of a very mean and tight cover for the man between the sticks.
“I believe that we have done enough within the shot time available to build a team that will defend and fly the country’s flag very high in the competition. With little knowledge of our opponent, we are condemned to play our game and get the needed result that will make the return leg inconsequential. I call on our teaming supporters to come out in their numbers and cheer us to a good win,” said coach Ogunbote.
Rangers’ opponent, who are expected in the coal city on Tuesday are the champions of Ethiopia Federation cup and champion-of-champions after a 4-2 penalty shoot win over Ethiopia league champions, Jimma Aba Jifar F.C after a 1-1 full time score despite playing with a man down for sixty-five minutes.
With names like Abel Mamo, Yidnekachew Kidane and Jemal Tassew, coach Seyoum Kebede have capable hands to earn some respectable result just as he will be banking on the quartet of Tewodros Bekele, Samuel Taye, Maraki Worku and Minyilu Wondimu to sparkle in midfield and attack.
Since emerging victorious at the Aiteo cup, Rangers have played three practice matches, winning two and one ending in draw while losing one competitive game, the champion-of-champions match to Lobi Stars just a week back.
Former Super Eagles winger, Felix Ogbuke in a chat ahead of the encounter said, “We expect nothing but total victory in our match against Defence Force of Ethiopia. With the hard work and determination shown in training, it can only end in total victory. With our strong belief in the ‘Never Say Die’ spirit, we shall make our fans happy.”
Rangers’ will also be banking on the midfield quartet of Ajani Ibrahim, Chiamaka Madu, Ugonna Uzochukwu and Ugochukwu Ugwuoke to provide the needed ammunition for forward liners to harvest goals in this competition which trophy have eluded the country
The encounter will be handled by Ali Moussa Mohammed from Niger Republic with three of his countrymen on the trip for the game that is fixed to kick off at 16.00 hours local time.