Steven Naismith: Hearts can't accept semi-finals as limit of ambition

The Hearts boss aims to beat the odds and knock Rangers out of the Scottish Cup.

Steven Naismith insists Hearts ‘want to get to finals’ ahead of another cup semi SNS Group

Hearts boss Steven Naismith has challenged his in-form side to push the boundaries as they bid to end their 12-year wait for silverware.

The Jambos have been knocking on the door in recent campaigns, featuring in three League Cup semi-finals in the last six seasons, while they have reached three of the previous five Scottish Cup finals before losing to Celtic (twice) and Rangers.

Naismith’s side are preparing to play their second semi-final this term on Sunday as they bid for revenge on a Rangers team who defeated them 3-1 in their last-four showdown in the Viaplay Cup in November.

Naismith believes it is time his outfit finally went the distance and got their hands on silverware for the first time since they crushed city rivals Hibernian 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.

“Since I first came here as a player (in January 2018), we’ve been quite consistent in getting to the later stages of the cups,” he said.

“The thing that’s missing is actually winning one, that’s the big bit. It’s hard work. It’s hard work to get to this point, and it will be hard work to get through this game.

“We’re playing a Premiership team, but we’ve beaten most of them this season, we’ve been to a semi-final before this season, so in general we’re comfortable (with the size of the task).

“But it’s about constantly wanting to push and strive and not just accepting getting to two semi-finals, we want to get to finals.”

There is a general feeling among Hearts supporters that 12 years is too long to go without silverware, particularly in light of the fact they won the Scottish Cup three times in the space of 14 years between 1998 and 2012.

Naismith believes his players are comfortable with the pressure of being expected to compete in games like this weekend’s and put themselves in a position to win trophies.

“The first time I spoke to every player here I told them there is a demand and an expectation,” he said.

“You need to accept that that’s there and not use it as an excuse, use it as motivation.

“But we’ve done that this season. That’s why we’re sitting 11 points clear in third place and have made two semi-finals. We’ve got to put the hard work in to get to the final.

“For us in our first year together, it’s good getting to two semi-finals but it’s better winning them.”

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