Ange Postecoglou says his team must follow in Kilmarnock’s footsteps to avoid League Cup knockout


    Ange Postecoglou
    Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou is seen during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and Kilmarnock FC (Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty)

    Ange Postecoglou has warned his Celtic players they must match Kilmarnock’s ‘give it all’ mentality if they are to avoid a shock League Cup semi-final exit at Hampden on Saturday.

    The Hoops beat Derek McInnes’s men 2-0 at Parkhead in the Premiership last weekend but the Celtic boss is adamant his team cannot take progress to the final for granted.

    He pointed to recent FA Cup shocks in England – where Premier League trio Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa were all knocked out by lower-league sides – as examples of how cup football allows underdogs to play with less pressure.

    Postecoglou said: ‘You just have to look at what happened down south in the FA Cup and cup football in general.

    ‘There’s a different element to it. It allows players to play with less fear, even though there’s so much on the line because when you aren’t expected to win you have nothing to lose.

    ‘It’s not like you’re losing three points and falling behind in the table. You give it all and see what comes of it and we need to be ready to deal with that and have the same sort of mentality.’

    Celtic v Kilmarnock
    Celtic played Kilmarnock on Saturday (Picture: Jeff Holmes/Shutterstock)

    Postecoglou’s men won on two out of three visits to Hampden last season, beating St Johnstone in the League Cup semi-final and Hibernian in the final before losing the Scottish Cup semi- final to Rangers last April.

    He added: ‘I’ve enjoyed the wins and didn’t enjoy the loss. It’s a unique venue in that there’s something on the line. Playing there isn’t just another game, it’s always a semi-final or a final. ‘I think it makes for a great occasion and we look forward to it. For us to make it memorable, we have to perform well and win.’

    Celtic game
    Celtic beat Kilmarnock 2 – 0 (Picture: Jeff Holmes/Shutterstock)

    That League Cup triumph in December 2021 was the first silverware Postecoglou won as Celtic boss, and he feels it was a landmark success. He said: ‘To win a trophy early certainly helped fast-track a lot of the things that I wanted to implement.

    ‘When you win a major trophy in the early months of your tenure, it just garners belief in everything you’re doing and accelerates everyone’s learnings and they want more of it.

    ‘So in the context of where we are now it was very important.’ Success: Ange Postecoglou says last season’s League Cup win was an important moment for him.

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