Leven asks Aberdeen to seize ‘great opportunity’ to reach second cup final

A win against Celtic could set up a thrilling end to the season for the Dons.

Peter Leven asks Aberdeen to seize ‘great opportunity’ to reach second cup final SNS Group

Peter Leven dismissed any notion that Aberdeen are heading to Hampden with nothing to lose this weekend as he challenged the “inconsistent” Dons to make it to a second domestic final this season.

The Pittodrie side are preparing to see out a grim cinch Premiership campaign in the bottom six after performing poorly in the league, but they could have a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup final to look forward to at the end of it if they can overcome league leaders Celtic in Saturday’s semi-final.

Having already reached the Viaplay Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Rangers in December, Leven sees no reason why the Reds cannot pull off an upset against Brendan Rodgers’ side and secure a return to the national stadium next month.

“No, not at all,” said caretaker boss Leven, when asked if Saturday’s match could be viewed as a free hit for his team.

“We’re going there to win the game. We want to get to another final. Yes, it’s going to be difficult, they’re a top team and they dominate the ball a lot, but we’ve got a gameplan and hopefully we can execute it.

“The last time we played them, we drew 1-1 at home, and I thought in the second half we had a really good go at them. We’ve got to have that belief and trust in what we’re trying to do.

“It’s a great opportunity for us and hopefully one we can take.

“It’s a huge challenge, but we’re Aberdeen, we want to be competing in the latter stage of competitions.

“Two cup finals in one season would be amazing.”

Leven, who is in his second stint as interim boss this term after veteran Neil Warnock cut short his ill-fated spell as caretaker last month, feels Aberdeen have found a bit of form in the build-up to the semi-final.

“It’s been an up-and-down season, it’s inconsistency, isn’t it?” he said. “The cup games – League Cup, Scottish Cup and in Europe – have been really good but the league form has not been good enough.

“But we’re now four games unbeaten, we’ve conceded two goals in five games, so hopefully we’ve turned a corner.”

The Dons are set to be at full strength, with the exception of captain Graeme Shinnie who is suspended after picking up two bookings in the earlier rounds.

“It’s a big blow, losing your captain, but Shinnie will still be there,” said Leven. “He’ll be round about the boys in the changing room. But, yes, it’s a big blow for us.”

Leven hopes the announcement earlier this week that Elfsborg manager Jimmy Thelin will be arriving to take charge of the club in June will serve as a pre-Hampden boost for everyone connected with the club.

“I saw a lot of positive reaction when the news was announced,” he said. “The announcement was for the fans.

“They needed something to galvanise everyone together again and hopefully the announcement that a new manager is coming in has done that.”

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