Enugu Rangers head coach Gbenga Ogunbote says the Flying Antelopes will “tidy up” their “unfinished business” against Algerian side USM Bel Abbes when both teams face off in the 2nd leg of the second-tier continental club competition, the Total/CAF Confederation Cup (CCC) First Round knock out at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu on Sunday.
Rangers would be looking to secure progress to the play-off round of the CCC with victory over the Algerians after securing a highly creditable goalless draw away at Stade 24 Fevrier 1956 in Algiers in the first leg and Ogunbote says Sunday’s match is all about completing the task left over from the first leg.
“It’s an unfinished business and by God’s grace we should be able to tidy it up and finish it off [today],” he told busybuddiesng.com.
While Rangers will be counting on the support of the home crowd and the familiar surroundings of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium to provide them with an edge in the encounter, Ogunbote, famously nicknamed the Oracle for his ability to change games from the dugout believes the inability of his side to register a goal away at USM Bel Abbes in the 1st leg, means his side go into Sunday’s encounter under a bit of pressure and are therefore “condemned to win at all costs” in order not to fall prey to the away goals rule.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” the former Enyimba head coach tells busybuddiesng.com, “I’m not new to coaching, when you go out to play a barren draw there’s pressure on you because you must make sure that you are condemned to win at all costs.
“It was a decent result [in the 1st leg] but all the same, our target is to scale the hurdle and we are working on it and all we need [on Sunday] is to win and by God’s grace I’m sure we will go through.”
Rangers have had to start their continental campaign without a proper preseason and indeed following a miraculous come from behind victory against Kano Pillars in the final of the Aiteo Cup on October 24, the Flying Antelopes have not really rested having started camping for the new season two weeks after the final.
With the Nigerian Professional Football League yet to kick off for the 2018/2019 season, Rangers have also lacked regular league games to help them build any sort of momentum to aid their continental campaign.
Even in the face of these challenges, Ogunbote says “[Rangers] won’t want to see it as
“The truth of the matter is that I would say we would have done better if we had had enough competitive games and actually rested before we commenced the campaign. It is a simple and straightforward logic,” he says.
“But be it as it may, we have had one game home and away [against Defence Force FC of Ethiopia in the preliminary round which Rangers won 5 -1 on aggregate], we are playing the second leg, we have played away, we are playing home so we won’t to see it as any excuse the only thing I know is that we may [have] enhanced our chances of doing better but be it as it may all we need is to win.”
With Nigeria’s other representatives on the continent Lobi Stars making it through to the group stage of the CAF Champions League (CCL) for the first time in 18 years after beating Gor Mahia of Kenya on Saturday, there are high hopes that Rangers would also progress to the next phase of the CCC and Ogunbote believes that fan support will be vital in helping them scale the hurdle of USM Bel Abbes on Sunday.
“My message is that I want to enjoin [the fans], those that would be in the environs of the game should come out to cheer us to victory and those outside should pray for us we need their prayers so that we can do very well and then we pray that by God’s grace we will not equally disappoint them.”
Rangers take on USM Bel Abbes of Algeria in the 2nd leg of the CCC first round knock out at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu by 4 pm on Sunday with the winners progressing to the play-off stage of the competition. The tie is finely poised at 0 – 0 on aggregate and USM Bel Abbes will progress with a score draw.
The winners of the Confederation Cup first round are drawn against the losers of the Champions League first round in the Play-off round of the CAF Confederation Cup (CCC), with the teams from the Confederation Cup hosting the second leg.
The 16 winners of the play-off round advance to the group stage.
Rangers last made the play-off round of the CCC in 2017 after dropping down to the competition following their elimination in the first round of the CAF Champions League.