Fans of Enugu Rangers International FC in Ebonyi have urged the team to put in extra efforts in the Caf Confederation Cup group stage which draws hold on Monday in Cairo, Egypt.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the team defeated Bantu FC of Lesotho 2-1 in the play-off return leg in Enugu on Sunday, to qualify for the competition’s group stage on a 4-2 aggregate.
The fans, who spoke to NAN on Monday in Abakaliki, congratulated the team for scaling the preliminary round hurdles but noted that the group stage would be stiffer.
Desmond Ome, Secretary of Ebonyi Football Association hailed the team’s resilience, noting that it had carried its AITEO cup winning streak unto the competition.
“Rangers have been impressive in the confederation cup competition as the players have shown unparalleled dedication, commitment and desire to excel.
“The team’s away-record in the competition has been splendid with the favourable results eliminating the pressure it would have encountered while playing at home,” he said.
Melvin Uzor, Defunct Nitel-Vasco Dagama FC Player, however, noted that the competition in the group stage would be stiffer because of the presence of champions like Rangers.
“Teams that would compete at the group stage are those which won their preliminary matches and are there for business.
“The players should, therefore, redouble their efforts by heeding to the coaches’ instructions, playing with more sense of purpose and strengthening the bond of unity among them,” he said.
Basil Anagha, a businessman and soccer buff, urged the technical crew to review the team’s performance in all its matches to correct areas of defect.
“From the team’s matches I watched, the players tend to relax and become serious only when their opponents ‘take the game to them’ or when they are on the ‘back foot’.
“They should realise that teams competing at the group stage are highly technical and experienced and might seal the encounters if given such opportunities by Rangers,” he said.
Mrs Chika Okoro, a teacher and ardent Rangers fan, urged the team to still concentrate on its league matches despite participating in the confederation cup group stage.
“The team should approach its first league encounter with MFM of Lagos on Wednesday with utmost seriousness, including other domestic engagements on its schedule.
“It should avoid a repeat of the 2016/17 season where it was eliminated in the CAF Champions league preliminary rounds and struggled to remain in the domestic league’s elite division,” she said.