Hearts striker writes off Hibs’ title challenge

El Hassnaoui believes the title will go to either Hearts or Rangers
El Hassnaoui believes the title will go to either Hearts or Rangers
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Hearts striker Soufian El Hassnaoui has dismissed Hibs’ chances of title success in this season’s Championship.

The 24-year-old claimed today that the Easter Road club lack the quality to win the league and that only Rangers and Hearts can mount a serious challenge.

El Hassnaoui has yet to kick a ball for Hearts after undergoing groin surgery at the end of last season. He could finally make his debut against Falkirk this afternoon as a substitute. While sitting in the stand in recent weeks, he has formed strong opinions on who he thinks does and doesn’t have a chance of winning the league.

His conclusion is that Hibs, who succumbed to a 2-1 defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle earlier this month, are not at the same level as his new club or Rangers – and therefore cannot finish top of the Championship. His comments are sure to cause a stir among players and fans of Hearts’ Edinburgh rivals.

The Tynecastle club enter today’s match sitting top of the league with three wins from three games. Rangers are three points behind in third place, while Hibs are eighth on three points.

“I think we and Rangers have to do it, one of us will be the one at the end of the season. Hibs? No. I don’t think Hibs have enough quality to do it,” said El Hassnaoui. “In the first half against us they did well but I think we have more quality than Hibs and so do Rangers. So I think it will be between us.

“I expected us to do well because I saw in training we had a lot of good young players. And most of them can get better still. But we all work hard for each other and I think this year can be a great year for us.”

El Hassnaoui joined Hearts after leaving Sparta Rotterdam in May. He signed a three-year contract but an unavoidable groin operation meant he missed his new club’s pre-season preparations.