With Rangers facing the real possibility of relegation to the First Division, they head into today’s game against Pegasus knowing that only a win can rescue them from what has largely been a nightmare season for the Kowloon Bay-based side. Jeff Hardbattle caught up with their French forward Quentin Lendresse to talk about their survival chances.
A team with a proud history in Hong Kong football, Rangers have long been known for honing local prospects into mainstays of the top level of football in the region. Formed in 1960 and named after their founder Ian Petrie’s beloved Glasgow Rangers, the club have won the league championship once back in the 1970-71 season, as well as tasting success four times in the Senior Shield and twice in the FA Cup over the years. They were also the first team to ever feature foreign nationals in their squad, with Derek Currie, Walter Gerrard and Jackie Trainer signing in 1970. The legendary George Best has even donned the light blue jersey for Rangers back in 1982.
Yet now, the club are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun and relegation looms large. Unless they are able to overcome Pegasus at Kowloon Bay Park, they will be plying their trade in the First Division next season.
French forward Quentin Lendresse, however, remains optimistic about the club’s chances of retaining their Premier League status. “Of course we can beat Pegasus and stay in HKPL. It is a final for us, and I hope every player will give his best to win this game. We know how important it is for the club and for all of us.”
And the former Saint Etienne B player also believes that his team will be approaching the match like any other, with the sole aim of coming away with a victory. “We haven’t prepared anything special for the match. We are just focusing on ourselves to be ready to fight and beat them.”
Lendresse has had a successful campaign at the club, finding the net 4 times in 14 Premier League appearances, as well as assisting Rangers in good runs in both the League and FA Cup, though he does concede that he wishes his first experience of football in Hong Kong had been under better circumstances. “I’ve really enjoyed my first season in the HKPL. Of course I would have preferred to finish the season in a better position with Rangers. Fighting every game against relegation is not easy but it will stay as a good experience.”
When questioned on his future at the club, Lendresse is adamant about focusing only on the task at hand. “I don’t know yet (about my future). I’m really just focusing on this important end to the season with my club. The only thing I know is that I would like to stay in Hong Kong next season.”
Rangers will remain in the Premier League if they beat Pegasus due to their better head-to-head record with Wong Tai Sin, who will be relegated should Rangers secure three points. The match kicks off on May 7th at Kowloon Bay Park at 2:30pm.