Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has explained his decision to leave out defender Calvin Bassey from his matchday squad for the 4-0 Scottish Premiership victory against St. Mirren on Sunday.
Despite, his recent good run of form, the 22-year-old Nigeria defender did not make the trip to Paisley 2021 Stadium as a hat-trick from Kemar Roofe and a superb strike from his Super Eagles compatriot Joe Aribo gave the Gers the huge win.
Speaking after the game, Van Bronckhorst explained the decision to Rangers TV: “We have to mix things a little bit up because we have a hectic schedule.
“I didn't put Jack and Calvin [Bassey] in the squad today [Sunday] so they are fresh for Thursday's second leg against Braga.”
Meanwhile, Van Bronckhorst believes Aribo’s goal will give him more confidence ahead of their following matches.
The 25-year-old Nigeria international ended his dry spell in front of goal with a spectacular long-range drive. Aribo’s last goal for Rangers came in the 1-1 draw against Dundee United at Tannadice Park on February 20 and since then he had not scored in five straight top-flight matches.
Against St. Mirren, Aribo was paired in the middle of the park with John Lundstram and former Arsenal player Aaron Ramsey and the Super Eagle scored a sensational strike after he hit a stunning, dipping effort from 25-yards out that sailed over Dean Lyness into the top corner.
Asked about Aribo’s goal, the former Arsenal defender said: “It’s good, it's always good to get on the scoresheet especially for a striker, but also for Joe [Aribo].
“You know he's an attack-minded player and gives him also a lot of confidence for the games ahead.”
Van Bronckhorst has revealed the win will boost his charges to do well against Braga in the second leg meeting having lost the first leg battle 1-0 at Estadio Municipal de Braga.
“We said before the game we needed to win this game and get back to winning ways and we did,” Van Bronckhorst added. “We won 4-0, no goals against us and I think it gives us confidence for Thursday and the games ahead.
“We’re confident because we won today. But we’re also confident that we can get a win at home in Europe like we’ve shown in the past.
“There’s everything to play for. It’s to reach the semi-final of a European competition, so it’s something we need to fight for and to work hard on. On Thursday we’ll have the support of the crowd. Today they gave us the support we need and Thursday will be the same.”
While Aribo and Zambia international Fashion Sakala featured in the entire game against St. Mirren, Nigeria defender Leon Balogun was not involved.