ANGE POSTECOGLOU is confident his players will find ways of scoring the crucial goals that will win the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side stand between Celtic and the opportunity of bringing down the curtain in appropriate style in the grand finale at Hampden on May 21.
On that Saturday afternoon on the south side of the city, the Greek-Australian could be one game away from an extraordinary domestic clean sweep that would complete the amazing transformation of a team that limped home without a trophy in a wretched previous campaign.
WATCHING BRIEF…Ange Postecoglou keeps a close eye on training at Lennoxtown.
Postecoglou acknowledges it will be no easy task against opposition who have been turned over in the past two derby contests, but he is certain his players have the temperament and the tactical knowledge on how to deal with what they will confront at the national stadium.
The Hoops boss beamed on the touchline at Parkhead four days ago as his team dismantled St Johnstone on their way to their biggest win of the term, a rampant 7-0 success with six players – all brought to the club by the manager – on target as they mixed up ways of placing the ball behind the overworked Zander Clark.
Reo Hatate got the procession underway in the eighth minute and Liel Abada thrashed in the seventh 12 minutes from time and in between Giorgos Giakoumakis, Daizen Maeda, Josip Juranovic (pen) and Matt O’Riley (2) also got on the scoresheet.
Postecoglou said: “There were some really good team goals in there, stuff that we constantly try to reinforce with the players and contributions from everybody.
DOUBLE THE PLEASURE…Matt O’Riley celebrates his second goal in the 7-0 rout of St Johnstone.
“From the fans’ point of view, they saw a team that is committed to playing the game a certain way and, irrespective of the scoreline or the situation, they’ll continue to do that.
“That’s kind of the end goal. You’re doing things for a reason and that reason is to kind of create a foundation for playing the game a certain way.
“There’s a goal where we kept the ball for quite a while and kept the opposition moving. There have been other times we’ve been more direct and counter-attacked.
“So, it’s not about one type of how we’re going to play.
“It’s within the foundation we’ve created that if the opposition are going to sit off us and give us time and move the ball around, then we can wait for our opportunity to score.
“If they come and press us, we’ll find a more direct way.
“But I guess as the players get more and more comfortable you can see that they’re creating their own sort of ways of overcoming the opposition.”
CUP THAT CHEERS…Kyogo Furuhashi turns away after scoring the Premier Sports League Cup winner against Hibs in December.
Postecoglou’s revitalised squad have now gone 33 domestic games without defeat after losing three of their first six Premiership outings as the jigsaw came together.
Included in that sequence, of course, is the Premier Sports League Cup triumph over Hibs in December and the back-to-back league victories over their Ibrox rivals – 3-0 at Parkhead in February and 2-1 in Govan 10 days ago – which leave Celtic six points clear at the Premiership pinnacle with five games to go.
Looking at Sunday’s vitally important confrontation, Postecoglou, speaking to Celtic TV, continued: “It’s a Cup semi-final, so there’s meaning on the end of it. There’s consequences on the end of it.
“Every Cup game you play, if you want to progress you’ve got to perform on the day and you’ve got to get the job done on the day.
“There’s no second chances and, particularly in the semi-final, it’s going to be a tough game. It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere and you know the players realise the occasion.
“I don’t have to disguise or dress it up in any other way that it’s going to be a massive game with massive consequences and it’s exactly where we want to be.”
FANFARE…Giorgos Giakoumakis salutes the Celtic supporters after netting his 13th goal of the season against the pulverised Perth outfit.
Van Bronckhorst’s side will face Sporting Braga in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final in Glasgow tomorrow night as they attempt to overcome a 1-0 deficit after last week’s loss in Portugal.
Postecoglou’s players are in the midst of an uninterrupted week of training preparation and the gaffer added: “Look, it’s a benefit because we’ll use it that way.
“You know, it depends on what you’re doing those days. For us it’s not about: ‘We’ve got a week so we can sort of relax’.
“It’s a week where we can put solid work into the players. Now if we had a game that would still work the same way.
“Our battle at the start of year was that we didn’t have a robust and strong enough squad to cope sometimes with three games in a week and keep levels up.
“With the squad we’ve got now, I’d be confident if we had midweek games, it wouldn’t affect our performance on the weekend.
“But having a full week just allows us to really work hard with the boys and prepare and play our football. Because we’ve got that extra time we’re going to use it.”