Giovanni van Bronckhorst saluted his players for crossing the finish line in Eindhoven to reach the Champions League group stage, but also emphasized that left-footed striker Alfredo Morelos was part of the feat.
Morelos was left out of the 23-man squad that traveled to the Netherlands for Wednesday’s second leg against Paris St Germain, as Van Bronckhorst said he did not consider him ready to play.
The manager said he would have to improve his mental and physical fitness before he could return to the squad, but substitute Antonio Colak scored the winning goal against PSV Eindhoven – his fifth in his last six games.
“I think one of the jobs as a coach is to inspire your players for what lies ahead and that is the Champions League for us. “Of course you have the fireworks and the day we had,” Van Bronckhorst said after his team’s 1-0 win was enough to seal the match 3-2 on aggregate.
Morelos qualified for the Champions League as well. I think he’s also proud to see his teammates and club qualify for the biggest competition in the world. He’s still a Rangers player and I’m going to push him the way I can to get him fit and get the Morelos we all want.”
The first matches of Rangers in the Champions League will be on September 6 and 7, and the draw is scheduled for 5 pm GMT today.
As the club’s all-time European top scorer, his return to the squad would be a huge boost for Rangers, and after causing so many turmoil on his way to the Europa League final last season, Van Bronckhorst doesn’t want to make the numbers team in the first competition.
“We’ll try to win it now,” the Rangers chief laughed.
“Of course you want to be competitive. We are here to compete, we want to compete with the best teams in Europe. It will be a tough challenge because we are going to face some big teams in Europe, as we did last year, but it is an experience that I will love.
“I love that my players have the opportunity to compete. I always remember my first Champions League game for Feyenoord against Juventus away and the first 20 or 25 minutes I was amazed by the level and the way Juve played at the time. To experience that as a player you have to be very special because Not many players get the chance to compete at this level.”
Kulak was the man who dashed Rangers’ hopes last season when he scored two goals at Ibrox to put Malmo first.
He compensated by taking advantage of close range to send Rangers into the group stage for the first time since 2010.
James Sands has shown rapid development since starting on a regular basis as a central defender and is another signing recently that has been growing in stature.
“You want to make sure the players always have an impact. Of course James was here last season as well, but the minutes he got now and the playing time is the most he got. I’m really happy with his performance and the level he’s at,” said Van Bronckhorst.
“For Antonio it is difficult to join a new club, the same goes for all the players we have this season. But he is very important in his performance and his goals. He had two goals last season which are not what we wanted as a team at Ibrox but now I think he is in good books with everyone.” in this club.
Morelos: Rangers’ long-running saga and why he was left out for PSV decision
(Photo: Getty Images)