JIM Jefferies believes “everyone would love to see” an Old Firm Scottish Cup final this season, with even the Dunfermline boss intrigued by the prospect of Rangers and Celtic meeting in the May showpiece.
However, that fact has done nothing to dampen his determination to produce a shock at Ibrox tonight and ensure a second consecutive season without the Glasgow giants crossing swords.
Jefferies has added his voice to other football heavyweights Kenny Miller, Andy Goram and, this week, Joe Miller, in stating that a cup clash between the fierce foes would create a welcome wave of excitement in Scottish football, particularly for supporters of Rangers.
It is the Pars, however, who have been charged with making sure that does not come to pass in tonight’s televised meeting between the League One rivals. And Jefferies will relish his role as chief party pooper.
“Whether this current Rangers team could take on the might of Celtic? That’s probably what everyone would love to see,” said the 63-year-old. “The fixture has undoubtedly been a big miss for the game up here. It would create a massive amount of attention and interest, it would fire up a lot of people, particularly on the Rangers side after spending a period out-with the top divisions.
“There would be a lot of pressure on Celtic to beat them, too, and I think most people would be very interested to see how that would pan out.
“Obviously, I want us to cause a shock and get to the next round but, if we don’t, then Rangers are well capable of going on to final and it would be a terrific occasion.
“But I’m not bothering about that at the moment – I’m bothered about my team going out there and competing and trying to get a result.”
While he would be loath to place Rangers among his favourites to lift the Scottish Cup, Jefferies believes it would be “foolish” to discount the chances of Ally McCoist claiming the trophy.
“Rangers are Rangers, it doesn’t matter what league they are in or what competition,” he continued. “They are a massive club and the quality is there to be seen if you look at their squad.
“You would be foolish to think they have no chance of winning it.
“The likes of Ross County, Queen of the South and Gretna have reached the final in recent seasons, after all. They are capable. However, we are counting on them not winning the tournament – because we want to put them out tonight.”
Jefferies admits some of his young players had never even seen Ibrox in person before their defeat in Glasgow back in November.
Despite a gallant effort in that 3-1 defeat, the veteran coach says his charges will be far more prepared for the task that awaits them under the lights in Govan tonight.
“The lads have to be brave enough to play their football, be composed and keep the ball in front of 45,000 supporters,” Jefferies added. “I have told them that.
“We learned a lot coming off that park at Ibrox last time. Could you deal with a high pressure game with a big crowd? Some of our players had never even been to Ibrox to see a game, let alone play there.
“But we did a lot of things right on that day, and we can take a lot of positives from that day, we ran them very close.”
Andy Geggan is back from suspension and Callum Morris has returned to fitness, but Jefferies must do without a hat-trick of recent signings as Danny Grainger, Jonathan Page and Ross Forbes are all cup-tied after being involved in either a playing or substitute role in the last round.