By Femi Solaja
The quest of Rangers International FC to revive their chance of reaching the knockout phase of the CAF Confederation Cup may have hit the rock following the 0-2 home loss to visiting Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia yesterday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu.
The visiting team achieved the result in grand style with the famous Panenka penalty that gave them the second goal to extinguished any hope of the Nigerian side reaching the knockout phase of the second tier continental club competition.
Panenka is a technique used in penalty kick-taking in which the taker, instead of placing the ball to the right or left of the goalkeeper, gives a subtle touch underneath the ball, causing it to rise and fall within the centre of the goal, thus deceiving the keeper who may have opted to either side of the goalpost. The famous style was introduced by Czech player Antonin Panenka in 1976.
Tunisian Iheb Msakni took the important penalty to double his team’s lead when Rangers’ goalkeeper, Nana Bonso was left stranded as the feeble kick sail slowly into the net and extended a frustrating day to the half filled crowd at the stadium.
The result sees the Tunisian side at the top of the Group B with seven points from four games while Rangers are last on four points.
It was a slow start to the match with both sides tentative in attack, but it sprang into life in the 19th minute when Maher Hannechi gave Sahel the lead after a clinical finish.
Rangers took control of the match after that and dominated the possession stakes, but their decision in the final third resulted in very few decent scoring chances.
In fact, despite have 61 per cent of the ball in the opening half, Rangers only managed one shot on target as the half ended 1-0 in favour of the visitors.
The start of the second half saw the home side continue to dictate terms, but the wind was taken out of their sails when Etoile du Sahel doubled their lead after Iheb Msakni converted from the penalty spot in the 69th minute.
The Tunisian side sat back in defence after that and seemed content to defend their lead.
Rangers tried to attack, but much like the first half they were wasteful in front of goal as the match ended 2-0 in favour of Etoile du Sahel.
Rangers will try to bounce back from this loss next weekend when they face Salitas of Burkina Faso on Sunday, March 10. Etoile du Sahel will also be in action on the same day away to CS Sfaxien.