Ange Postecoglou tells Celtic players to embrace hype of Rangers showdown

The Hoops can move a major step closer to a fifth treble in six seasons.

By Press Association Published: 16 April 2022 - 11.14am

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou will tell his players to embrace the hype ahead of their Scottish Cup semi-final with Rangers so they are ready to seize their opportunity.

The Hoops can move a major step closer to a fifth treble in six seasons when they face their city rivals at Hampden on Sunday.

Postecoglou urged his players to create history earlier in the week and he explained that he sees no good in underplaying the occasion ahead of such a big game.

The former Australia head coach said: “My experience with these things, there is no point trying to disguise it as something it isn’t.

“You can go in there and say that it’s just another game and treat it just like another game but I think you lose the unique aspect of the fact that you want your players to embrace the big occasion and play in a big game. You don’t want your players to shy away from it.

“I don’t think I need to tell them that, they will realise themselves from the build-up and obviously when they walk out there.

“But my role in that is just to make sure that the focus is on the important things, the things that have got us to this point, and also highlight the fact that the key to these big games is to be ready to take the opportunity.

“You don’t want to let too many of those opportunities go by in your career.

“I’m not one for telling the guys to ignore the hype or ignore the attention.

“Particularly at this football club, it’s really important that the guys embrace that and want that.

“They want to be in the big games and, the bigger the games, the bigger the opportunity to make a statement.”

Postecoglou has a number of players at his disposal who made key contributions on the big occasions during Celtic’s quadruple treble campaigns, such as Tom Rogic, James Forrest and skipper Callum McGregor, who scored in consecutive Scottish Cup semi-final wins over Rangers in 2017 and 2018.

But he feels they are no longer dependent on such experienced players when it comes to the big occasion, having introduced the likes of Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley to good effect in recent months.

When asked whether Rogic’s past Hampden goals would make him someone who he is looking to play a key role, Postecoglou said: “He’s one of the ones but hopefully now we are getting to a stage where we are less reliant on guys who have already proven themselves in big games.

“What I would like to think is that over the last six months we have exposed guys to semi-finals and the final of the League Cup, a couple of derbies, European football, some big games, and hopefully they have all had that experience so we are not just relying on one or two.

“Experience in these kind of situations is important, and Tom and Cal and a few others have had that, but what we have been really good at in recent times is making sure we are not relying on one or two individuals.

“We are on it collectively and we have multiple threats in terms of ways we can score goals, but equally we are working pretty hard defensively as a unit.”

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