Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst says Champions League qualification is the goal |  Soccer News

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst says Champions League qualification is the goal | Soccer News

Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst says Champions League qualification is the goal |  Soccer News

Giovanni van Bronckhorst has stressed the importance of Champions League football to himself and Rangers as he prepares for the first leg of the play-off against PSV Eindhoven at Ibrox on Tuesday night.

Rangers last played in European football’s elite club competition in 2010/11 before their financial troubles saw them re-emerge in the lower tier of Scottish football, from where they eventually returned to the ‘elite.

They were knocked out of the Champions League qualifier by Malmö last season, but Gers players and fans then enjoyed a memorable run to the Europa League final, only to lose on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville.

However, it is the top tournament that the Rangers manager, who took over last November, has targeted.

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and St Johnstone

“That’s my hope and our hope,” said the former Feyenoord boss, who confirmed Ryan Kent and James Sands were available after missing out on the 4-0 Premiership win over St Johnstone at Ibrox on Saturday.

“We play European football every season. Last season it was the Europa League.

“Of course the disappointment of not qualifying for the group stage [of the Champions League] against Malmö, we turned it into a very positive year in Europe.

“But there’s no doubt in my mind that every year we’re involved in European football, we want to be in the Champions League.

“That has to be our goal and that’s why we are working hard.

Ryan Kent trained with the Rangers squad on the eve of the first leg
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Ryan Kent trained with the Rangers squad on the eve of the first leg

“It does not mean that we will play in the Champions League every year, but the desire [is to do that] and we want to show everyone that we want to participate in this tournament.

“Obviously I’ve coached before in the Champions League, it’s a tournament you want to be involved in as a player, as a club, as a manager.

“I came here and I wanted to win the awards for this club and I wanted to play at the highest level and that’s the Champions League.

“The main thing for me is to qualify and bring the club back to the biggest stage in European football.”

Giovanni van Bronckhorst (right) will face his former Dutch teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy (left)
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Giovanni van Bronckhorst (right) will face his former Dutch teammate Ruud van Nistelrooy (left)

Van Bronckhorst is a former Dutch team-mate of PSV manager Ruud van Nistelrooy and he also worked under his assistant, Fred Rutten, at Feyenoord.

The Gers boss said: “I haven’t been in contact with him lately.

“I never thought he would be a coach, I never thought about being a coach when I was playing either.

“He took his badges for a few years and made the decision to gain his experience in the PSV academy and he did well with the U19s and last season with the PSV second team.

“He was lucky enough to coach the first team and PSV is a place he knows well and the support and backing he gets from the club is similar to what I got at Feyenoord, so I I can’t wait to meet him again, to see a player with whom I played also take his steps in the coaching “

Van Nistelrooy: He’s a special fan base at Ibrox

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Ruud van Nistelrooy prepares for the first leg of PSV Eindhoven’s Champions League play-off against Rangers.

Speaking after arriving in Glasgow, Van Nistelrooy said friendship would be put aside at Ibrox: “We can meet at other times for dinner and going out.

“Tomorrow we will both defend our own badges and that’s it.

“When you play against a friend as a team, as a player you only want one thing, for your team to win and that will be the case tomorrow.”

PSV Eindhoven trained at Ibrox on the eve of their Champions League play-off
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PSV Eindhoven trained at Ibrox on the eve of their Champions League play-off

Van Nistelrooy played at Ibrox for Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven and hopes his experiences will help his players reach the Champions League group stages.

“Of course I will share my experiences on how the mood will be,” said the former striker.

“I’ve said many times before that it’s a special fan base. They support their team in an incredible way, just like our own fans do.

“That’s why we can understand the support here and what it does to a team and, in that sense, we are prepared.

“But above all, I see a team of fantastic players. I see young boys and experienced players playing very well together in a very recognizable style under Gio.

“We are fully aware of the quality of the players we are up against and we need to be 100% prepared in all aspects of the game to do well here.”

“It’s a big challenge for us”

Van Bronckhorst believes players should leave all pressure to enter the Champions League in the dressing room.

He said: “The rewards you get are bigger and it’s the pressure, but you don’t have to put it into the game.

“You just focus on your strengths and your ability to play well and beat PSV in two games.

“It’s a big game but you want big games in your career, you like big challenges and it’s a big challenge for us.”

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Kent rested for the win at St Johnstone, while Sands missed the race through illness.

Van Bronckhorst said: “James Sands and Ryan Kent are back in the squad so we’re looking forward to the challenge we face tomorrow.”

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