Clubs eye Hampden glory as Scottish Cup reaches quarter-final stage

Four ties across the weekend will determine who reaches the national stadium.

Clubs eye Hampden glory as Scottish Cup reaches quarter-final stage SNS Group

Eight sides remain in the Scottish Cup but only four can make it through this weekend’s quarter-finals and keep their dreams of Hampden triumph alive.

Seven teams from the Premiership are involved, with Greenock Morton flying the flag for the Championship, and there’s guaranteed to be action, celebration and goals before Monday night’s semi-final draw.

Attention turns to Pittodrie first, where Aberdeen welcome Kilmarnock for the Saturday lunchtime game.

The Dons have only won once under interim manager Neil Warnock – defeating Bonnyrigg Rose in the previous round – and have lost all three meetings with Derek McInnes’ Killie side so far this season.

Warnock has made no secret of his dreams about winning the competition during his brief stint in charge, and believes the break from a difficult league campaign can be “a breath of fresh air” and “just the type of game we need”. The Dons have never been beaten by the Ayrshire side in the Scottish Cup.

Kilmarnock are having a season to remember, currently sitting comfortably in the top half of the season and with a series of notable wins to their name.

McInnes has hailed their “ability, spirit and tenacity” as the players have punched above their weight and he would love to seize the opportunity to progress to Hampden at the expense of the club he managed for eight years.

Sunday brings a double-bill of cup drama, with Celtic and Livingston meeting in the first game.

Holders Celtic are looking to bounce back after their bruising defeat to Hearts in the league last week and aim to continue their defence of the trophy they won as part of the treble last year. After defeating Buckie Thistle and St Mirren in previous rounds, Brendan Rodgers’ side are firm favourites to reach the final four.

Livingston have endured a difficult season in the league and currently sit bottom of the Premiership and though manager David Martindale will set his side out with intent to cause a major upset, he isn’t reading too much into Celtic’s last result.

“They have a top manager, they are a top club, and it’s going to be a difficult game of football,” he said.

Following the Celtic Park clash, the focus moves to Easter Road, where Hibernian play host to Rangers.

Though they lost to Motherwell last weekend, Rangers have impressed under Philippe Clement. But Hibs boss Nick Montgomery says his side will take belief from their own five-match unbeaten run.

“We’ve been on a good run ourselves, so it wouldn’t matter who we were playing or whether they had won or lost at the weekend, we would be going in full of confidence,” Montgomery said. “They have got a midweek game against Benfica, as well. So that’s a bit of travel. But they have definitely got the depth of squad to cope with that.”

That midweek game saw Rangers draw 2-2 with the Portuguese champions, with the performance perhaps giving Clement’s side a boost that will outweigh any tiredness as they look to compete in European and domestic competition, and add to the League Cup trophy they won earlier in the season.

And the full semi-final line-up will be known by Monday night after the outcome of the Morton v Hearts tie at Cappielow.

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith has steered the side to sit comfortably in third place in the league but he says that winning silverware would be the best evidence of their progress this season. The former striker has experienced cup shocks himself and has warned his players they will need to be on their game to avoid any upset.

Morton manager Dougie Imrie is relishing the chance to take another Premiership scalp after knocking Motherwell out in the last round and he hopes Cappielow can play a part in knocking Hearts out of their comfort zone and helping his side triumph.

“I have been a player going against these big clubs, you have to take everything you can,” he said. “If we can do that and the fans get behind us, then you never know what can happen.”

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