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Niall McGinn | semi-final preview

April 12, 2018 2:44 am Author: AFC Media Team

“It’s massive.

“We’re back at it again with the semi-final and the boys have done tremendously well to get to this stage as we’ve had tough games against good opposition from the Championship and Kilmarnock.

“Kilmarnock was an unbelievably tough game for us as they have shown how well they’ve done over the course of the season. To get through on penalties at Rugby Park was very pleasing for us, but we knew no matter who we were going to face in the semi-final it was going to be a tough game. We have Motherwell with Celtic and Rangers on the Sunday. Semi-finals are always tough to get through, and we know from this season from the games against Motherwell, they’ve beat us twice and we’ve beat them twice, we’re in for a very tough game.

“It’s a game we’ve been looking forward to and although there’s been important league games it’s been good to get them out the way and get ready for the Scottish Cup this week. It’s a priority from the start of the season for us. We’re a big club and we want to be involved in finals.

“Last season the Scottish Cup final was a massive disappointment and still fresh in our memories but getting to two cup finals was important for the club. We want to go one step further and pick up the trophy. We’ve got a good opportunity against Motherwell and we’ve got an opportunity to get back into a final. We’ll just work hard on the training field, get ourselves right and be fully prepared for the game on Saturday.

“You’ve got Kenny, Shay and Shinnie out. Everyone knows they are massive players for us. Graeme and Kenny have been vital in the middle of the park and Kenny’s one of our more creative players. He gets on the ball and can keep the game moving and have a controlled influence on proceedings. With Graeme he’s our captain and he is a leader and one of those types of players that you probably need to get on top of other teams. He also has that experience of lifting the Scottish Cup.

“With the squad of players we have after the way the manager’s recruited this season we’ve got players to come in and do a good job. Motherwell have suspensions as well and it’s probably the same for both in terms of having to make changes, but for us it is very disappointing with those three boys missing. It’s a semi-final and it’s a chance for other boys to come in and impress.

“There’s always pressure with semi-finals and finals, but we have had the experience of getting to finals. Over the last few years we’ve won a cup and we’ve been continuously in semi-finals so these days down at Hampden are the ones you want to be involved in. We’re just looking forward to it and regarding pressure there is no real added pressure because it’s been the norm over the last couple of years at this club. We’ve just got to go there and the most important thing is getting the win.

“It is an occasion you only enjoy if you win.

“It’s always been the case since I’ve been here. Any game we’ve lost we seemed to have bounced back and I think it is one of those ones that if you win on Saturday against Hearts you can go in over confident. Hopefully it’s a blessing in disguise that we’ve lost the game as it can benefit us in the game on Saturday. We know we have to come out and put on a performance.

“We’ve always answered back at the whole season. We’re still sitting in a nice position in the league and there is a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season. The priority is the Scottish Cup semi-final and we’re just focusing on Saturday.

“Motherwell is a tough opponent to come up against. They work very hard for each other.

“I know Stephen Robinson well as he was part of the Northern Ireland set up. His training was always enjoyable. He works very hard on shape and organisation. He is very big on organisation and leaves no stone unturned and you can see that in this Motherwell team. Every player knows their role in the side.

“I’m sure regarding team selection Motherwell will maybe look towards the 2-0 game they beat us up here when they played a diamond and did very well against us. So they will maybe change their shape. It’s down to tactics on the day and who shows up players wise. There’s always goals in this fixture.

“We had that 3-0 defeat earlier on in the season to put us out of the League Cup, but it showed how well the boys did to bounce back a few days later with them going down to Motherwell and being hard to beat.

“It’s going to be an anxious game and both teams will be setting out to defend properly and hopefully the technical players can take over.

“Previous results and performances don’t matter and it’s about who shows up on the day.

“We know that if we show up we are capable of getting to a final.”

Niall McGinn looks ahead to Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup Semi Final vs Motherwell.

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