Football: Rangers look back without anger: David McKinney pays tribute to the Scottish champions who did Britain proud in Europe

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The Independent Online
WITH their tears of frustration now dried Rangers can allow themselves the briefest of glances back at their achievements in this year's European Cup before addressing themselves to future conquests.

Broken bodies and hearts will need time to recuperate from the most emotionally draining night Ibrox has witnessed for many years, the night when Rangers hands were smacked as they were within touching distance of the European Cup final.

Pride replaced the frustration yesterday as the Scottish champions reflected on 10 European ties without defeat including two historic victories over Leeds United and, as the standard bearers for British football, the Rangers players can be comfortable with their contributions.

The experience of competing with the best in Europe will make Rangers a better team next season but their manager, Walter Smith, said: 'There are no guarantees for next season and it doesn't follow that we will be as successful again. With the prospect of a similar number of games next season we will have to add experienced professionals to our ranks.'

Despite the disappointment of their European exit the season is far from over for Rangers who have the small matter of sewing up their fifth successive league championship which will be confirmed tomorrow week if defeat is avoided at Airdrieonians. There is also the Cup final against Aberdeen, victory in which would complete a domestic treble.

Seven of the Rangers players who played against CSKA Moscow have been named by Andy Roxburgh in a 21-strong Scottish party for the crucial World Cup qualifying match against Portugal in Lisbon on 28 April.

SCOTLAND SQUAD (for World Cup qualifier v Portugal, Lisbon, 28 April): Bowman (Dundee Utd), Boyd (Celtic), Collins (Celtic), Durrant (Rangers), Ferguson (Rangers), Gallacher (Blackburn), Goram (Rangers), Gough (Rangers), Gunn (Norwich), Irvine (Aberdeen), Levein (Hearts), McCall (Rangers), McClair (Manchester Utd), McCoist (Rangers), McInally (Dundee Utd), McKimmie (Aberdeen), McLaren (Hearts), McPherson (Rangers), McStay (Celtic), Nevin (Tranmere), Robertson (Hearts). Standby: Booth (Aberdeen) Brown (Rangers), Jackson (Hibernian), Maxwell (Rangers), D Robertson (Rangers), Shearer (Aberdeen), Smith (Hearts), Wright (Hibernian), Whyte (Middlesbrough).

PORTUGAL SQUAD: Baia, Neno; Veloso, Xavier, J Costa, F Costa, Sousa, Semedo, R Costa, Nogueira, Peixe, Figo, Barros, Cruz, Futre, Aguas, Cadete, Oliveira.

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