A special day: Ange Postecoglou relishing first cup final as Celtic boss

The Parkhead club failed to secure any silverware last season after winning a historic quadruple domestic treble.
A special day: Ange Postecoglou relishing first cup final as Celtic boss

By Ronnie Esplin, PA

Ange Postecoglou wants to lead Celtic back on to the silverware trail in the Premier Sports Cup final against Hibernian on Sunday.

The Parkhead club had won an unprecedented quadruple domestic treble before losing the cinch Premiership title for the first time in a decade last season to Rangers, with the Scottish Cup and Premier Sports Cup going to St Johnstone.

The Hoops boss faces his first cup final since succeeding Neil Lennon in the summer, and in the midst of a busy fixture schedule which saw Celtic scoring a late winner in the league against Ross County in Dingwall on Wednesday night, he wants to make it count at Hampden Park.

“It is only this morning that we started to prepare for it, doing some opposition analysis, and obviously there is a little bit of hype around the place with the cup final,” said Postecoglou, who insists it is too early to make a call on the fitness of Kyogo Furuhashi, James Forrest and Mikey Johnston.

“I am looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trip to Hampden for the semi-final with everything that entails. It should be a special day.

“It is an opportunity for this club to win a trophy and get some silverware. Particularly after last year, it is something that we want to get back to doing as a football club and this is our first opportunity.

“Hopefully we give a good account of ourselves and take it.

“When I joined this football club obviously that was the aim. I was under no illusions, I had to try to bring success to this football club and the first opportunity to do that is on Sunday.

“I am sure it will be a great occasion, the atmosphere will be sensational and ultimately it is about us, preparing well and giving the best of ourselves on the day and hopefully that proves successful.”

Postecoglou is banking on the best version of Hibs travelling to Glasgow.

The Easter Road side will again be guided by caretaker boss David Gray following the sacking of Jack Ross on the back of a mostly dismal run of  league form, either side of the stunning 3-1 semi-final win over Rangers at Hampden Park.

The former Australia manager, whose side have won six games in a row, said: “In a cup final, your opposition is always tricky because the one thing you can know about a cup final is you can forget recent form.

“In a one-off game with such a big prize, people are going to lift their levels of performance. No one will go into this game feeling like they are not in form.

“We have to prepare for Hibs being at their best, as they were in the semi-final, and be ready to counter that.”

Portuguese attacker Jota had already been ruled out with a hamstring injury and Postecoglou had previously said Swiss forward Albian Ajeti (also hamstring) would probably would not be back before the winter break while Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis had a clean-up operation of his knee.

Japan international Furuhashi (hamstring), Scotland winger Forrest and Johnston (both knocks) also missed the midweek win at Ross County, and the Hoops boss will give them every chance to make the showpiece occasion.

He said: “From the other night, everyone got through OK which is good.

“In terms of guys in rehab, all progressing. Obviously we still have another day tomorrow but we can’t really make a call on any of them being available or unavailable at this stage.

“As I said earlier in the week, it is a day-to-day proposition as to who potentially might be available for Sunday.”

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