Rangers forward Fashion Sakala is determined to win the Viaplay Cup on Sunday, knowing his home village in Zambia will be watching his performance at Hampden.
The attacker has played an important part in Michael Beale’s Rangers side since the Englishman arrived as manager, and is likely to have a key role when the Ibrox side take on rivals Celtic on Sunday.
He is determined to give his best for the club and their support in what is going to be a noisy atmosphere at the national stadium but will also be aware that an audience over 7,000 miles away will be cheering his every touch.
The Zambian international’s family and friends in the village of Chizimati are following every step of his career in Glasgow and Sunday will be no different.
“They watch every game on Rangers TV,” Sakala said.
“Most of the time before the game I have a FaceTime call with people in my village and we talk.
“They are preparing to watch the game and it’s making them more excited to be happy and know they are watching a boy from the village where I was born.
“They always say it would take years for a player from there to come and play in Europe but there is nothing impossible, as we believe.
“They are very proud of me.”
Sakala is well aware of his position as a role model for the growing number of aspiring players at home, and says he is pleased to be showing what he can do again after a tough start to the season.
“It’s a huge story [back home],” he said. “For young Zambian players looking at me playing for Rangers each and every week, I think it means a lot to them knowing that nothing is impossible.
“In the beginning of the season it looked like ‘oh, he’s not playing and might leave’ but I kept on working extra hard and now they are seeing me play consistently.
“It’s something that has had a big impact and I appreciate it a lot. Playing for Rangers is not easy. We have talented players and it isn’t easy to get a position.
“Being consistent and playing every week shows how hard-working I am.”
Though he had nothing bad to say about previous manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst, it’s clear that Sakala has been thriving under Beale and he put that down to having a clear understanding of what opportunity he would be given.
“We had a meeting when he came in and he told me the role that he wants to play in the squad,” the forward said. “It’s exactly what he said and what has been happening in the last few games.
“He has added a lot of value and a lot of confidence. He has motivated me and I can tell that I’m a totally different player to the start of the season.
“Obviously we are not playing the most beautiful football in the league but the most important thing is that we are winning games.”
Sakala has already collected one medal in Scotland after coming off the bench to help his side win the Scottish Cup. Now he’s aiming for a second and says he knows it is vital to come out on top.
“We’re very excited for the game,” he said. “It’s a very important game for the club and the fans and we’re going to give everything to fight for the win to get the trophy.
“Obviously I know how important the game is when you’re playing against the other mob. I believe that its all about the badge and I don’t really think about my individual performance. The most important thing is the win and a good performance for the players.
“The impact that I brought in the last game was good for the squad but I’m looking for more.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country