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6 of 060 Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92 SC A

Paatelainen plots stare way to cup heaven for Hibs


Hibernian will win the Scottish Cup one day. The statement is made by Mixu Paatelainen, the current incumbent of the manager's office at Easter Road, and comes accompanied with a stare that suggests it is not a joking matter.

It is a bold claim to make. No Hibs captain has lifted the famous old trophy since 1902, every passing year adding to the weight of expectation that sits on the shoulders of the latest group to pull on the green and white shirts.

The task facing the latest group, as they bid to end that 107-year unhappy sequence, begins on Sunday with a derby visit from neighbours Hearts. Paatelainen is convinced the hoodoo will come to an end some day but conceded he may not still be alive when it finally happens.

"I don't think there is any extra pressure on us," said the Finn. "There is a great opportunity for us. I know that one day Hibs will win the Scottish Cup.

"On our day we can beat anybody, as we've seen. If we get a run together and play well in the Scottish Cup this season, why not? If we didn't believe that, we shouldn't be in the competition.

"The club has recently won the League Cup, so why not the Scottish Cup? It will happen some time. I don't believe there's a hoodoo. Whether it happens this year, next year, in 10 years or even 100 years, we'll have to wait and see. It is an opportunity for players to become legends. That's a good incentive for them."

Hibs will be led out at Easter Road on Sunday by Rob Jones. A £100,000 bid for the central defender from Colchester was turned down earlier in the week while the player has recovered from the hamstring injury that caused him to miss the goalless draw between the two sides at Tynecastle last weekend.

"I'm not surprised there is interest in Rob," his manager added. "There is always speculation over good players. I was very surprised they made it public, that they had made a bid. It was rejected.

"Now the matter is closed. Rob is enjoying being our captain. He's playing fantastically well and is very important to us. Hopefully he will be the Hibs captain who lifts the Scottish Cup for us.

"You can see by his performances, how he plays, whenever he scores or assists on a goal, his reaction to it. A player who is not committed to the club would not behave like that.

"He demands and he's a real character. He trained with the team today and hopefully there is no setback. It's important that we welcome him back."

Sunday should see Jonatan Johansson make his home debut after making his first start for Hibernian in last week's derby. Paatelainen believes expectations on his countryman need to be measured.

"Hopefully he will benefit a lot from last weekend.

I know he was on his knees in the last 15 minutes but it was important that he played the full 90, for match fitness and sharpness. It takes a little while but hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.

"But we must realise that Hearts are no mugs. They are a quality team with fantastic individuals. It's not just plain sailing - it's not like JJ comes in and scores a hat trick right away. Hopefully there is a goal in him. Whether it happens on Sunday, we'll wait and see."

Paatelainen was coy about his tactics ahead of the weekend but hopes his team are more clinical than in their last outing. "I hope there are goals this weekend - and I hope we score more than them, obviously. I don't expect the attitude to be any different because derbies are all like cup games, with tackles flying in and everyone desperate to win. Even the league matches mean so much to players, supporters and everybody. But this is the cup and it is more important because, if we win, we progress. "Will I change tactics? Wait and see. We created a couple of clear-cut chances last weekend and we want to score one or two of those."

Taken from the Herald

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