Rangers try Bantu for size

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Photo credit : Rangers-International-FC

The twenty thousand capacity Setsoto stadium located in Maseru the capital city of land-locked, Lesotho in the southern part of the continent will on Sunday, January 13, 2019 be hosting one of its biggest football club games as reigning Nigeria club champions, Rangers International F.C come visiting with an aim of continuing its fine form on the continental scene this term.

The encounter is the first leg, 2nd1/16th round of the second tier continental club competition, Total Confederation cup 2018/2019 with the ticket to play in the group stage of the competition at stake.

It is a known fact that Bantu F.C are two-time league champions and seven-time cup champions and got eliminated by D.R Congo side A.S Vita 5-2 on aggregate to step down to the second tier continental club competition where Rangers is having a fine run in the four matches played winning three and ending one in a draw in far away, Bel Abbes, Algeria.

Bantu F.C currently under the tutelage of South African young manager, James Madidilane would be relying largely on his compatriots, Tsietsi Khooa, Tsietsi Motseare, Lazola Jokojokwane and Lindokuhle Phungulwa to extend their run in continental football for this term but his counterpart, vastly experienced and widely traveled gaffer of the Nigerians, coach Olugbenga Ogunbote have the men to do the job and take him past his former continental best with Sunshine Stars F.C.

With Ghanaian shot stopper, Nana Bonsu at his imperious best ably shielded by the quartet of Chidera Ezeh, Nigerian born Benin Republic international, Isaac Loute; Akpos Adubi and Semiu Liadi it will take the ‘A Matso Matebele’ forwards led by twenty-six year old, Phungulwa a miracle to have a sniff at the ‘Flying Antelopes’ goal.

Just as the battle may shift from attack to the midfielders to break the deadlock, Bantu would be looking up to Hlompho Kaleke whose goals earned his side some respect in the return leg games with Rollers F.C and A.S Vita at their backyard while Rangers might look the way of pint sized, Bright Silas and ‘Bundle of energy’, Godwin Aguda to deliver the goods and make the return leg a mere formality.

Age wise, Bantu are by miles, Rangers seniors as the Lesotho champions will in the next eight years be celebrating a century since its formation while the Nigerian seven time league champion and six time cup champion will only be fifty next year but Ghanaian shot stopper of the Enugu, Nigeria side, said, “God is the main reason we are where we are today in the competition coupled with unity, self determination and motivation from supporters, management and government. I have the belief that we can overcome the Bantu challenge and qualify for the group stage of the competition. We are not afraid of our opponents, Bantu F.C but we respect them as champions of Lesotho football league.”

Also sharing his thoughts on the game, Senegalese defender, Pape Ousmane Sane said, “No doubt Bantu are the big boys in this encounter having come down from the CAF Champions league but we are determined to play our game and hold our heads high at the end of the game to make the return leg a mere formality,”

Current form favors the Nigerian side who have found the back of the opponent’ net seven times in four matches conceding once with Silas and Aguda contributing three each while their opponents, Bantu have scored four goals in the four matches played while shipping in seven.

Rangers coach, Ogunbote said ahead of the clash, “I believe we can do the talking inside the pitch. The much we have prepared coming into the match will put us in the right stead for the result we desire. We don’t know much of our opponents other than they are league champions of Lesotho and stepped down from the more prestigious champions league. We respect them for their feat but will play our game without any fear.”

The match will be handled by Andofetra Avombitana Rakotojaona who will be assisted by Lionel Hasinjarasoa Andrianantenaina and Randrianarivelo Ravonirina Harizo all from Madagascar.

Rangers will be hosting the Lesotho side in the reverse fixture on Sunday, January 20, 2019 inside ‘The Cathedral’, Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, Enugu a 25,000 capacity stadium that has hosted top matches including FIFA senior world cup qualifiers, FIFA U-20 world cup 1999 and FIFA U-17 World cup 2009.

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