WILLIE KIRK believes his Hibernian Ladies’ team can pull off a shock result and defeat holders Glasgow City in tomorrow’s SWF Scottish Cup final.
Scottish champions City have dominated the domestic game for years and won this season’s Scottish Women’s Premier League by a record margin, however they go into tomorrow’s encounter at Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld (kick-off 3pm) in the rare position of having suffered back-to-back defeats.
City’s Champions League last-16 dream ended in a nightmare as successive losses to Arsenal saw them dumped out of the competition and Kirk, below, is hoping his side can inflict yet more misery on the Glasgow girls. The Hibs boss believes that to do so his side will have to curb their natural attacking instincts and put the emphasis on frustrating their opponents.
He said: “We have had two weeks to prepare for the final and every session has been focussed on winning that game, whilst City will have been busy with Arsenal.
“That could affect them mentally, but it won’t matter physically because they are conditioned to play two or three times a week. They’ve had a couple of disappointing results and our game plan will simply be to frustrate them and hopefully take advantage.
“We won’t be naive and go gung-ho against City because we have been expansive against them in the past and been hammered because they are so clinical at picking you off.
“We know that, given the resources of the respective teams, we will need to be at our best and carry a lot of luck because they are a quality side and there is no getting away from that. The girls have been right up for it in training and have been focused and positive on what we will need to do.
“We can go into the game relaxed with little pressure on us as we are massive underdogs. All the pressure is on City because they will have to win to ensure they at least match last year’s levels of success.”
Both clubs have won the competition a record five times and are desperate to create another piece of Scottish football history with a sixth success.
But whilst the City players have done it time and again, the experience of a final will be new to most of the Hibees young squad.
Written off by many before a ball was kicked in anger this term, the Easter Road side have enjoyed an incredible season, finishing runners-up in the SWPL, reaching the semi-final of the Premier League Cup and the final of the Scottish Cup.
Despite leading Hibs to Scottish Cup success in 2010, Kirk believes victory tomorrow would be the most significant achievement of his tenure at the club. He revealed: “It’s been a fantastic season and in some ways we have over-achieved given how young the side was at the start of the campaign.
“Yet, right from the very first training session, the girls have shown a terrific attitude and a willingness to learn and work hard. I’m not sure if it was because of the players that left, or those that we brought in, but something just clicked.
“Winning the cup on Sunday would be huge for this group of players, because a win could be the catalyst for big things.
“We won the competition a few years back with an experienced squad and, for that reason, I think it would be a bigger achievement to win the trophy with this group of youngsters.
“Both clubs are rightly proud of the record we share for most Scottish Cup wins and neither will want to lose that.
“We’ve learnt a lot from our games against City this season and our youngsters have gained invaluable experience.”
Admission for the match is £6 for adults, while concessions are £3 and family (2+2) is £15.