Lagos – Rangers International FC of Enugu is ready to surpass its previous achievements in the CAF Champions League and has been mandated to reach the group stage, a club official has said. Rangers’ Media officer Foster Chime said in Lagos that the club was committed to the course of delivering on the mandate.
Nigerian representative in the CAF Champions League defied all odds against them to pull a surprising 1-1 away draw against Algerian side, JS Saoura in their first match.
The flying Antelopes are arguably one of the most successful clubs in Nigeria having been the champions of the Premier League in Nigeria in 1974, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1984, and were winners of 2015/2016.
The team has a rich history of playing in the CAF Champions League with nine appearances 1971, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1985, 2006 and 2013.
Rangers were finalist in 1975 edition, losing 1-3 on aggregate to Hafia FC Guinea. The Coal City Boys were also three times semi-finalists 1976, 1978 and 1982.
The club’s last campaign in the CAF Champions League was in 2013 when they were abruptly knocked out in the second round of the competition.
Speaking about the match against the North African opposition, Foster said the team had hectic moments in the far state where his team played the match.
“The venue of the match is like travelling from Nigeria to Italy and it was about four hours drive from Algiers and about 28 hours by road.
“The timing of the match itself was unfavourable as we played by 7 p.m. when the weather was extremely cold amid intimidation and provocation by the home fans.
“We were able to get the result just by the grace of God because the North African opponents in are clubs’ championships are very difficult to manage.
“However, in spite of all the odds against us we had a decent outing,’’ he said. Foster said that it was not yet time for celebration for the team as the return leg would determine the fate of both clubs.
“Although we got the result through our nose, but the team we are playing is also a good side, so it is not yet over until we play the return leg.
“The club we played against is used to playing in the cold weather so we may have to play them maybe by 2 p.m. when the weather is hot rather than 4 p.m.
“They are a tough side and we must do everything to go past them but it is too early to predict what will happen until we play the match,’’ he said.
Foster said that the club had received enough motivation from the Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, adding that the club was ready to have a decent campaign in the competition.
“We have a very strong support from our amiable governor who has given us the charge to go all out and do the nation proud. “The governor has given us the mandate to ensure qualification to the group stage of the competition which is achievable.
“We’ll ensure that we get to the group stage which is the money spinning stage and it is two matches away. “After this, we will set another target because CAF Champions League is a tough competition but with the kind of support we have from the government, we are expected to go far,’’ he said. (NAN)