Strapped Rangers refuse to panic

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 November, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 November, 1999, 12:00am

Rangers team manager Philip Lee Fai-lap has told his young charges not to put themselves under too much pressure when they face Kitchee in tonight's Hong Kong First Division match at Mongkok Stadium.

Rangers will field a squad of under-19 players, bar one experienced foreigner - Brazilian forward Anilton Da Conceicao.

The team have undergone some severe changes after being forced to cut back on players because of financial constraints.

All but one foreign player left the club because the team's principal sponsor, Artixan, couldn't commit themselves to the team.

The team are now financially supported by club chairman Leung Ting on a shoe-string budget of just over $1 million.

'We know what kind of position we are in at the moment and it won't help matters if we put ourselves under too much pressure,' said Lee.

'The club don't expect the boys to produce results. We are at a huge disadvantage but the boys want to continue playing.

'We have decided to play on for the sake of the young players. We are a very young and inexperienced side but I think we will learn a lot.' Two weeks ago, Rangers' fate was sealed when Artixan couldn't confirm its sponsorship for the season.

As a result, experienced foreign players like Anto Grabo, Mark Grainger and Gus Caesar left, looking for work elsewhere.

Kitchee, meanwhile, will be aiming to continue their promising start to the season.

Kitchee, shock 2-1 conquerors of South China last month, have won both their games this season. A win tonight will put them one point clear of champions Happy Valley.