The last time the Enugu Rangers travelled this far, it was virtually a disaster.
It was in April 2017 and the Flying Antelopes literally refused to fly to Zambia where they would be facing Zesco, in the return leg of their Caf Confederation cup encounter. Having not been paid their travel allowances for a previous game in Algeria, the team refused to board their Ethiopian Airline flight to East Africa forcing only, then Chairman Christian Chukwu and club officials to jet out.
While they did eventually relent later on in the week and travel out, they arrived with just hours to spare before the game and never recovered from the obvious jet-lag. They sleep-walked like Zombies throughout the game and were thankful that after 90 minutes, they had only lost by three goals and ingloriously exited the tournament.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Rangers are set to face Bantu United in the same competition and will again be travelling far. In fact, the 6,714.9 km from Enugu to Mafeteng in Lesotho, is the furthest they have travelled in Africa. The flight time is almost a mind-boggling 18 hours with only one probable stop in Kinshasha.
So it goes without saying that the Nigerian Federation Cup champions must use their previous odyssey as a learning experience and travel smart. They have to arrive on time to get acclimated with the weather which in January will be around 21°C as opposed to Enugu which is around 32°C. In addition to this the weather there is very fickle and may even drop as low as 14 °C. So our boys may want to make their long-sleeved shirts just in case.
The game will be held between January the 11th and 13th at the Leshoboro Seeiso Sports Complex Mafeteng (above) which holds approximately 7,000 fans and while it is not as intimidating as the Cathedral in Enugu because the fans are packed in closer and has limited covered seating it can be very noisy. In addition, some visitors have often complained about the playing surface which is grass. But it will not be any worse than some pitches the Coal City boys have played on in Nigeria.
Bantu FC arrived at the Confederation Cup after crashing out of the Champions League. They were mauled 4-1 in the Congo by Vita Club and could only manage a 1-1 draw in the return leg.