THE game is one that will be replicated on parks the length and breadth of the country as a group of friends gather for a kick-about. This is a match with a difference, though.

A five-a-side pitch in London is a world away from where Glen Kamara and Joe Aribo now call home after the long-time companions were reunited at Ibrox this summer. But it is where their relationship has been strengthened, where their skills have been honed as two players from different areas of the Capital have taken their respective routes to Rangers.

When Aribo completed his switch from Charlton in June and penned a four-year deal with Steven Gerrard’s side, few supporters knew what to expect from the midfielder.

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Kamara never had any doubt he would hit the ground running and quickly make a positive impression after seeing the playmaker at close hand in recent times.

The dancing feet, the close control and the darting changes of pace and direction that Aribo has shown in the first weeks of his Rangers career have impressed and enthused fans and new boss Gerrard.

He is now performing on the biggest stage of his life but those talents have been fine-tuned in a less high profile and less pressurised environment.

“We have known each other for a good few years through playing five-a-side with each other and having mutual friends,” Kamara said of Aribo, who started his career with Staines Town before spending four years with Charlton. “I’m from West London, but you get about!

“Every pre-season we just got together, like I say we have got mutual friends and we were in the same team a lot. Even last year. It’s normal five-a-sides, some are in West London, some are South London, just depends where the game is at.

“It’s mainly all footballers, from different clubs, we all know each other.

“It’s serious, everyone is competitive and no one wants to lose. Someone organises it and we pick teams and it goes from there.”

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The move to Rangers has given Aribo the chance to play in front of a demanding and expectant crowd and he has already made his mark at Ibrox after scoring in the Europa League wins over St Joseph’s and Progres Niederkorn in the last fortnight.

The game with Kamara is, of course, played in a very different atmosphere and it is bragging rights and personal pride rather than points and prizes that are on the line.

The camaraderie between the pair has been beneficial for Rangers, though, as Aribo made the decision to join Gerrard’s side.

Kamara said: “It just depends who is watching. Sometimes there are a lot of people, other times there is no one watching.

“If we have big stars coming to play then people watch. Guys like Alex Iwobi and Wilfried Zaha play.

“Oh, he’s really good at fives! I never really played against him because he’s usually on my team.

“I messaged him and told him what it was like [at Rangers] and tried to encourage him to come.

“He asked me a lot of questions about Rangers. I told him the expectations were massive and it’s a big club, the fans are crazy.”

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The deal for Aribo is one of eight that boss Gerrard has completed this summer as he added strength and depth ahead of the European qualifiers and new domestic campaign.

Gerrard now has greater options right across the team and difficult decisions will need to be made on a game by game basis as he looks to lead Rangers to silverware success.

In the middle of the park, he also has the likes of Ryan Jack, Steven Davis and Scott Arfield to chose from and that area of the side is arguably the strongest the Light Blues have.

The competition for places is intense but the fight for a jersey from week to week will only raise standards as Gerrard tries to drive his team on at home and abroad.

“The squad is big already,” Kamara, who has established himself after moving from Dundee in January, said. “It’s always a fight and I guess that means the competition is good for the team.

“We have some great players in central midfield and it’s always going to be tough. But it’s good to have competition.

“All in all from front to back we have improved. We got Jermain Defoe in and Jordan Jones in for example.

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“In midfield we got Joe in too who has done really well. Greg Docherty has come back from loan too.

“I’ve still got a lot to learn. I’ve got loads to learn, the manager has told me little things like getting the ball on target more.

“I’ve got to know everyone well and I guess I’ve settled in all right.”

After Aribo broke the deadlock against Progres last week, fellow summer signing Sheyi Ojo added the second goal that put Rangers well in control of the second qualifying round tie.

The Gers return to the scene of their humiliation under Pedro Caixinha tonight as they take to the Stade Josy Barthel once again.

But they do so a very different and much improved outfit as they look to take another step towards a second consecutive group stage appearance in continental competition.

Kamara said: “We have to go out there and do a professional job. We probably need another goal.

“We just need to get the win and qualify. It’s a great experience for me and the team.

“European football attracts players and it’s good for the club and the players too. I’ve seen some of the pictures form last season on the wall and I’d love to be part of the action.

“I’ve heard about the defeat against Progres so it is important to get through to the next round.”