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Philippe Clement challenges Rangers to ‘write history again’ in League Cup final

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Dec 2023

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Philippe Clement has handed his Rangers players a warning from his own past as he urged them to create more history and not live off Thursday’s European triumph.

Rangers swept into the last 16 of the Europa League with a 3-2 victory over Real Betis in Seville.

It was the first time a Rangers team had beaten Spanish opposition away from home and Kemar Roofe’s winner achieved what Real Madrid failed to do five days earlier and inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Betis.

Rangers have another huge match on Sunday against Aberdeen at Hampden as they look to take the League Cup back to Ibrox for the first time since 2011.

Clement has been trying to bring his players back down to earth following their Spanish heroics and ensure they are ready to face an Aberdeen team who were buoyed by victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Belgian, who could have Todd Cantwell and Scott Wright back in his squad, said: “There is always excitement if you can play finals and win trophies, it brings something extra. Of course we had an exciting evening on Thursday. I was very pleased about the team writing history, the first time Rangers won in Spain.

“It is an exceptional thing they did, but we need to turn our minds. In my past I have had good and bad experiences that way.

“After a historical evening, if you don’t have the right mindset you can lose it really fast and in a really stupid way. I told the players we won with Brugge in the Champions League in Milan against a really good Milan and all the famous names – Cafu, Maldini, Dida, Nesta, Pirlo, Shevchenko, Inzaghi.

“We won 1-0, it was a great party afterwards. We were like kings of the world. And three days later we lost against the smallest team in Belgium. All the fuss and positivity was gone in a few days.

“So I spoke about that with the team and I saw in their eyes they had already switched. So they are ready for Sunday.

“The past is the past and we need to write a really good future and they can write history again. It’s an amazing thing, they can write history twice in four days – they need to grab that opportunity with both hands.”

Clement will seal his first major trophy in Scotland if he makes it 14 games unbeaten since taking charge.

The former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco head coach said: “It is not about me. That’s not so important. It is about the club and the players and they deserve to get appreciation.

“Winning trophies brings appreciations from outside and it can change perceptions. I have a read a lot of bad things about these players and this team and they can change all of that in one game.”

Cantwell missed the Europa League win over Betis for personal reasons but is involved in the Hampden preparations.

“Todd trained today so there is a big chance he will be there tomorrow,” Clement said on Saturday afternoon. “Cifu (Jose Cifuentes) will be injured – we are unsure how long for. Scott Wright will be in the selection, he is back. Leon King will be in the selection. He had a car accident last week with his mother.”

Wright is among several midfield options who have been missing in recent games along with Ryan Jack, Nico Raskin and Tom Lawrence.

Cifuentes is suspended for the game anyway. Striker Danilo is also missing with a long-term knee injury.

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