Celtic foes suffer crushing international heartbreak days before Glasgow derby

By David Walton

March 30, 2022

Rangers trio Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo, and Calvin Bassey have all suffered major international heartbreak with Nigeria just days before facing Celtic.

The Ibrox trio suffered a crushing World Cup qualifying exit at the final hurdle in a 2-legged tie against Ghana. A 0-0 draw away from home was followed up last night with a 1-1 stalemate. This put the Ghanaians through on away goals.

Balogun and Aribo both took part in the full match, with Bassey coming off with just 2 minutes remaining. The result no doubt giving all 3 a huge psychological blow heading into this weekend’s Glasgow derby at Ibrox.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The game was marred by chaotic post-match scenes in which angry Nigerian fans stormed onto the pitch. In the end it got ugly with police using tear gas to disperse the furious supporters. Sadly, there was an unfortunate casualty as a result of the chaos [Daily Express].

It appears that all 3 men got through the match and post-match incidents without any injury concerns. But it’ll be interesting to see how their failure to reach the World Cup effects them on Sunday. Especially considering they lost out at the final hurdle after bagging a positive result in the first leg.

It will no doubt have been both physically and mentally draining for them, whilst many Celtic stars were given rests in the build-up.

Celtic should be in positive frame of mind as Ghanaian media rip into Rangers stars

Celtic have had a relatively relaxed week. International stars such as Nir Bitton, Giorgos Giakoumakis, Josip Juranovic, Carl Starfelt, Greg Taylor, and Callum McGregor have seldom played this week.

Meanwhile, 3 of Rangers top stars – 2 of which are destined to start on Sunday – have just suffered a huge psychological blow.

The likes of Bassey and Aribo were also ripped into by the Ghanaian media. Sports outlet The Cable hammered the former for being “porous in defensive situations”. Another outlet, Pulse, got stuck into Aribo for failing to get away from his marker all night as they slammed his touch and fatigue.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

So it’s fair to say they certainly aren’t coming back in great shape. Celtic have to test just how demoralised they truly are with their World Cup exit by getting on top of them early on at Ibrox.

There’s no reason for us not to come out and seriously take the game to Rangers. Especially when you consider how many of our stars have been rested up this week. We should be in great shape heading into this one.

And it remains to be seen what mental fragility is there to be exploited in Rangers’ Nigerian stars.

In other news, 5 rival players are put through the wringer as Celtic stars earn pre-derby rest