Fashion Sakala has targeted a Champions League starting slot against Liverpool after scoring his first goal of the season in Rangers’ 4-0 Premiership win over St Mirren at Ibrox.
The Zambia international came off the bench in the 2-0 defeat at Anfield on Tuesday night and impressed enough to be given his first league start of the campaign against the Buddies.
In-form striker Antonio Colak scored either side of a James Tavernier penalty before Sakala sealed the win with a fine drive in added time.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side moved back to within two points of Celtic at the top of the table ahead of their rematch with Liverpool at Ibrox on Wednesday night where Rangers will look for their first group points.
Sakala said: “I’m looking hopefully to starting. But I always respect the decision of the boss.
“If I start, I will appreciate it. If I’m on the bench, I will appreciate it as well.
“I always look forward to getting my chances. If he gives me the chance to start against Liverpool, I’ll be ready.
“I hope to start. But it’s his decision and I respect that.
“We have struggled in the Champions League, the first time back in the Champions League for the club for a long time. We have to switch very quickly.
“The league is very important for us and we know how tough it is. We need to stay focused on the league. The Champions League has been difficult.
“We always say we don’t need to sleep in the league competition because that is the most important for us.”
Van Bronckhorst admitted his delight that Colak hit the ground running at Ibrox after signing in the summer from PAOK.
The 29-year-old Croatia striker’s brace against the Buddies took his tally to 13 goals in the last 14 appearances.
The Gers boss said: “Of course we wanted him to have a good start.
“I was happy we had him really early in pre-season because we knew [Alfredo] Morelos wasn’t ready for the beginning of the campaign and with the Champions League qualifiers really early in the season, he had to perform really well from the beginning which he did.
“I am very happy with his performances and all he has to do now is continue that.”
Buddies boss Stephen Robinson pointed out several chances his side passed up and questioned the penalty awarded when defender Declan Gallagher tackled Colak.
The Northern Irishman said: “At key moments the game went against us. It is not often you come to Ibrox and have two one-versus-one’s.
“Allan McGregor made a great save from Mark O’Hara and Alex Greive.
“Curtis Main hits the crossbar and Marcus Fraser is in the box with acres of space and perhaps should have made a better decision.
“From middle to front I thought there was a lot of really good aspects of play but we got punished for mistakes.
“I haven’t seen it (penalty) back from a proper angle.
“Declan is adamant he got the ball, the referee said their player got the first touch on it which didn’t seem to correspond with where the ball went.
“When you play Rangers and Celtic you need decision to go your way, you need to defend very well and at key moments we maybe didn’t defend as well as we could have.”