12 Mar Scottish Cup a ‘massive opportunity’ for Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes is fully aware the William Hill Scottish Cup offers a major chance for success but refuses to accept Tuesday’s replay against Kilmarnock could define their entire season.
The Dons travel to Rugby Park to face in-form Kilmarnock in the quarter-final replay after the two sides drew 1-1 at Pittodrie earlier in the month, with a meeting against Motherwell at Hampden the prize on offer.
Success in the cup has been high on the list of priorities all season for McInnes, whose side lost to Motherwell in the Betfred Cup last eight.
The Dons are without a win in their last four games, which has seen them drop to five points off second-placed Rangers in the league, a spot Aberdeen have held on to for three consecutive seasons.
Killie manager Steve Clarke and midfielder Gary Dicker turned up the heat on the Dons on the eve of the game by claiming Aberdeen’s campaign rested on continuing their cup run. But McInnes still has ambitions on several fronts.
“It gives us a real opportunity to have a really successful campaign, as it will for Kilmarnock and anybody left in the cup,” McInnes said.
“We said at the start of the competition that it’s one we will set out to try and win, regardless of who we’re up against and we still see that.
“We are sitting third in the league and we are used to being better than that, but there’s still a lot of points to be gained in the league.
“It’s not season-defining but, for the perception of it, it will help us with our league form if we can win.
“The feelgood factor and momentum will give the supporters a lift and hopefully we can get into the semi-final because we know how strong cup runs are important to everyone.”
Aberdeen’s experience in the latter stages of cup competitions would normally make them favourites to advance to the final four, but the improved form of Killie – particularly at home – leaves McInnes playing down their previous exploits.
He said: “We are looking to get to our sixth semi-final in five years.
“We have players here that will be new to them but for tomorrow, ideally we will use that experience to get through the tie but I don’t think it’s hugely important.
“Kilmarnock for the first time in a long time are enjoying playing at home and that’s credit to them.
“We enjoy going down there and have picked up some positive results and for me that means it should be a tight game and could come down to a bit of quality, a lack of concentration or a bit of luck.”