CELTIC are keenly awaiting the SFA’s decision on the future of this season’s Scottish Cup which is due a week today.
The Hoops have won the national competition for a record four times, but may not be given the opportunity to defend the silverware for a fifth time in this campaign where very little has gone according to plan for the Parkhead side.
A respite may be welcomed by the holders if the Scottish soccer rulers decide to postpone the remainder of this term’s competition due to the ongoing uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hoops continued their wretched form with their third league defeat since the turn of the year with another humiliating performance in the 1-0 loss to the Premiership’s bottom side Ross County in Dingwall last night.
The 10-in-a-row quest lies in ruins following a succession of dire results and displays.
HAMPDEN HOORAYS…Neil Lennon applauds the first goal against Hearts in the delayed Scottish Cup Final in December.
Neil Lennon has already seen his players capitulate in three competitions before the end of November with embarrassing exits in the Champions League, the Europa League and the Betfred League Cup where they were despatched by last night’s conquerors.
With the team wobbling, a break may be welcomed by the holders to give themselves the opportunity to regroup and go again.
They were due to play Aberdeen in the semi-final in April last year before the SFA decided to hold over the last-four fixtures – with Hearts and Hibs due to meet in the other tie – and it was eventually played on November 1.
BY THE LEFT…Ryan Christie curls in the opener with Christophe Berra trying to intervene.
JOY BHOYS…Odsonne Edouard is congratulated by Ryan Christie after his penalty-kick for the second.SAVE No.1
Goals from Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi downed the Dons to set up the delayed Cup Final against the Tynecastle side.
Five days before Christmas, the Hoops had to rely on two saves from rookie keeper Conor Hazard in the 4-3 penalty-kick shoot-out triumph following a 3-3 draw after extra-time against the Championship club.
That added to the previous three victories over Aberdeen, 2-1 in May 2017, Motherwell 2-0 the year later and 2-1 over Craig Levein’s Hearts side on the iconic date of May 25 in 2019.
Success in the showpiece silverware spot-kick drama on December 20 sealed the phenomenal quadruple treble.
SPOT ON No.1…Conor Hazard dives to save the penalty-kick from Stephen Kingsley in the shoot-out.
SPOT ON No.2…Hazard thwarts Craig Whighton.
SPOT ON No.3…Kristoffer Ajer thrashes in the crucial penalty-kick winner.
Celtic’s only hope of a trophy in the season from hell rests in the Scottish Cup, but a team that have failed to win 11 of their 30 league outings would have to have a remarkable upsurge in form if they are to be placed among the favourites for the competition this time around.
The tournament is now three rounds behind while clubs in Leagues One and Two have been in recent quarantine with the Hoops due to face the winners between Arbroath or Falkirk in the third round which had originally been scheduled for last month.
The Scottish Cup is also without a sponsor after the deal with William Hill bookmakers ended with the Parkhead side’s record-breaking victory before the turn of the year.
With the Cup Final due for May 8, it will be a massive task to get all the rounds played without further disrupting the league schedule.
HAMPDEN HERO…Kristoffer Ajer celebrates the Cup success.
SCOTTISH CUP WINNERS FOR THE 40th TIME…the Celtic players celebrate at the presentation.
There is a further complication with the delayed Euro 2020 Championship scheduled for the summer, with two games at Hampden. Steve Clarke’s men are due to take on the Czech Republic on Monday June 14 and Croatia the following Tuesday. In between, there is a trip to Wembley for a clash with England on Friday the 18th.
If the national competition is put on ice for a second successive season, Celtic could be allowed to field players who have not been registered for the current tourney.
Jonny Hayes was a Hoops player when last year’s Cup kicked off, but was allowed to play for the Dons in the last-four crunch encounter against Lennon’s side in November.
Now Celtic can only wait for the judgement from Hampden a week today.