Nigeria’s AITEO Cup Champions and 2018/19 CAF Confederation Cup flagbearers Rangers International on Sunday exited the continental tournament after an excruciating 0-1 loss to Tunisian side CS Sfaxien at the Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium in Enugu.
Rangers needed not just maximum points from their home game but also an unlikely capitulation by Etoile du Sahel at home to Salitas in Sunday’s final group games but it turned out that they would get none of the two as the Burkinabes also lost 0-1 to Etoile in Sousse.
Gbenga Ogunbote-led Rangers dominated the game in humid conditions but somehow failed to score a single one of their numerous attempts on goal due to a combination of good goalkeeping by Sfaxien goalkeeper Sabri Ben Hassen and what some described as ill-luck after two of their attempts came off the post.
Midfielder Godwin Aguda almost added to his six goals tally but his well executed volley midway through the second half came off the foot of the post before Nassim Hnid headed home a free kick in the 73rd minute to give the visitors the victory.
Rangers will now focus their attention on the Nigeria Professional Football League where they have six outstanding matches to play following their continental participation.
Head coach Ogunbote believes it was just not meant to be their day.
“I must say that today was not just our day. We had four balls hit the post and just their only effort at goal went in.
“It was a bad day in the office but my boys did their very best under a very harsh condition. We leave with our heads held high as we go back to the league to navigate our way back to the continent. I congratulate C.S Sfaxien for their win and qualification.”
Both of Nigeria’s representatives in CAF competitions Lobi Stars (in the Champions League) and Rangers have now exited their respective tournaments from the group stage. Nigeria will be represented by two teams in each competition next season.