Bongani Zungu defends Rangers team-mate from racist abuse in tense Europa League tie

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Bongani Zungu (Getty Images)
Bongani Zungu (Getty Images)

Bafana Bafana midfielder Bongani Zungu made another appearance off the bench for Rangers on Thursday as the Scottish champions crashed out of the Europa League after a 2-0 defeat at home to Slavia Prague.

Steven Gerrard's Rangers finished with nine men in a home loss, as the Czech side won 3-1 on aggregate.

Peter Olayinka gave Slavia an early lead at Ibrox and Rangers' hopes of a comeback suffered a double blow with Kemar Roofe and then Leon Balogun sent off for the Scottish champions in the second half.

Nicolae Stanciu's free-kick immediately after Balogun's dismissal ensured victory for Slavia.

Zungu was introduced as a late substitute in the 82nd minute as Gerrard made a three-way change to try to influence the game late on but the changes failed to make the desired impact.

The South African was also involved in ugly scenes at the end of the match when team-mate Glen Kamara accused a Slavia Prague player of racist abuse.

"I think first and foremost it is important to say that sometimes during your career and around football sometimes things happen that are more important than the game and that are above football and that is what has happened tonight;" Gerrard told Rangers TV post match.

"First and foremost, I'll deal with the football side we were beaten by the better team over the two legs, congratulations to Slavia.

"I think they deserved it over the two games in no way, shape or form are we going to sit here and be a bad loser and come out with any excuses.

"I am really proud of my players in terms of the effort and the journey they have took us on considering it was manoeuvred through a title race as well so I can't be any more proud of them from a football point of view.

"Although over the course of the two games we were beaten by the better team."

Gerrard then added that he stood by his players after midfielder Glen Kamara alleged that he had been racially abused.

Video footage showed Zungu reacting strongly to the accusations after being within an earshot of the incident.

"In terms of the other incident I have to be very careful what I say but you build relationships in football and I have built a very very strong relationship with Glen Kamara.

"Glen Kamara to me is one of my own, like all of them in that dressing room and I 100% believe what he is saying in terms of the accusation.

"Other players around it heard it so I will stand toe to toe with Glen Kamara and I will deal with this however Glen Kamara wants to deal with it.

"I am proud of all my players tonight for showing solidarity and from the top of this club to the bottom we stand with the players. It is over to UEFA now this situation and I just hope it doesn't get brushed under the carpet."

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