Soccer

League leaders Rangers the surprise package of season

  • Former PHC Zebra and Bermuda international Stephen Astwood (left) is expected to make his debut for new club Southampton Rangers on Sunday
Southampton Rangers coach Marvin Belboda said he isn’t surprised to see his team off to their brightest start to a season in decades.

The Sky Blues have taken the Premier Division completely by storm, producing four wins to top the standings on goal difference over nearest rivals Devonshire Cougars after six rounds of matches.

Belboda said his team’s early season form is a bi-product of the hard work the players have put in rather than a surprise.

“It all comes down to hard work and what you put in is what you get out,” the former Devonshire Colts winger stressed. “The commitment is also definitely there and everybody is working for each other it’s a team venture.”

Belboda replaced the banned Keith Jennings as coach of a Rangers team that barely survived relegation last season. And in a short period of time he has instilled a winning mentality in his players.

“The guys have a will to want to win now,” Belboda said. “I often tell my players that winning is contagious and if you get into the habit of winning then good things come.”

Rangers currently have 13 points, the same amount they managed last season to avoid making the drop on goal difference.

“Everybody likes a winner and the players are enjoying winning which is something they haven’t been used to for some time,” Belboda added. “We are looking to finish in the top half of the table but if we are in contention for the league by Christmas then that’s what we will go for.”

Even though Rangers are off to a flying start Belboda is quick to caution his players against complacency.

“I always tell my players not to become complacent because things can happen in the blink of an eye,” he said.

Belboda is currently working with a good crop of youngsters blended with the experience of veterans Janeiro Tucker, Dennis Russell and Tokia Russell.

Tokia Russell is a late transfer to the club and made his first appearance for Rangers in their 4-1 demolition of Wolves last week.

“Tokia came in and did a good job for us the other night against Wolves,” Belboda said.

Rangers showed plenty of character against Wolves in their last outing which saw them come from behind to snatch a vital win on the road and soar to the top of the standings.

“Wolves dominated the first 45 minutes and they looked very good,” Belboda said. “But I told my guys to keep believing in themselves and stick to the game plan and that’s what we did.”

As well as instilling a winning mentality, Belboda has embraced an attractive, possessive style of play.

“I don’t believe in just kicking the ball up to the striker, you have to move the ball around and work with each other,” he said. “It makes a big difference when you are playing out of your own half rather than just kicking it up field.

“It brings a lot of discipline on the field and that’s what we need right now in the local game because it seems everybody is going away from the middle and playing kick football.”

Rangers are at home to Flanagan’s Onions on Sunday when it is expected former Bermuda international Stephen Astwood will make his long overdue debut for the Sky Blues.

“I’m sure Stephen will be available for Sunday’s match with Flanagans,” Belboda said. “Stephen is going to be a deadly threat because he is one of the bigger players in Bermuda who can muscle players off the ball and make his game a lot easier.”