Rangers are ready for the Mother City
Manning Rangers coach Gordon Igesund was unusually upbeat about his Mighty Maulers' prospects against Mother City when the teams meet in the first round, return leg tie, at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday. They played to a goalless draw in the first leg in Durban a fortnight ago.
"It was not too disappointing as we did play City with 10 men for a substantial portion of the game. But what was heartening was the way my guys played in that match, they played very well," Igesund said. "We had so many chances which we could not convert (and) although it is always great to get a good result at home, I am not too worried ... as there are positive signs the team is getting better and better with every match," he said.
Still, the lack of goals will be to City's advantage and Igesund has bad memories of matches against Cape teams in this competition. They were bundled out of the cup by newcomers Seven Stars in the quarterfinals at the same venue last year.
"It is always tough playing in Cape Town and we expect a difficult game against City. I believe it has been raining for the past three days and the conditions will also make our job tougher," Igesund said. "I am however looking forward to this match and all we need is a 1-1 draw or a win and we will go through. City cannot afford to concede a goal because the away goal rule could apply," he said.
Rangers will be without two key players as Liswa Nduti is under suspension and defender Nkhiphitheni Matombo is on duty with the South African under-23's in the All-African Games, but Igesund was not fazed by this as he has a full strength side at his disposal.
"Those are the only two who are out, but I have no injury problems and have no real selection concerns."
He is pleased with the way things are panning out at Rangers - they are lying fourth on the league table and the reconstruction of his team around a new style of play is taking shape nicely.
"It will take about three years to rebuild the team to the level I want them to be, a potent side to be reckoned with, but we are progressing faster than expected and everything is going to plan. If we end in the top eight this season I will be very pleased. Obviously looking to the future, one must not lose too much valuable ground by throwing away unnecessary points. That is why it is important that we do well in the Rothmans Cup this weekend," he said.
He has an array of talented players to outwit the Cape side. Zimbabwean international striker Gilbert Mushangazhike can be a matchwinner on his day and with the inclusion of Mozambican Helder 'Mano-Mano' Muianga to bolster his defence, City may have their work cut out in both halves. Rangers will have to keep a close eye on City's in-form striker Alton Meiring, who is proving a thorn in the flesh of defences these days.
The key to City's success could lie with the hard-working midfielder Mike Allen, former Bush Bucks Mzuwathethi Nogwaza and Zairian defender Pati Lokose.