Dundee have a new hero and Sofien Moussa could not have timed his ascent any better ahead of Sunday’s city derby with rivals Dundee United.
The Tunisian grabbed a magnificent hat-trick in just 37 minutes at Central Park with a superb display of clinical finishing and penalty-box skill. That he passed up further gilt-edged opportunities to add to his tally was proof of a night to remember for the 29-year-old in Fife.
The summer signing had netted in both of Dundee’s previous Betfred Cup victories, against Raith Rovers and Buckie Thistle, but this was a performance that elevated him still further in the eyes of the adoring Dark Blues faithful. How they would love him to repeat this performance this weekend.
Manager Neil McCann was left furious by his team’s showing in their 2-0 win over Buckie on Saturday, responding to what he saw by cancelling their planned day off on Sunday. He could not have hoped for a better response at a tricky venue. Instead of working him hard, McCann may be tempted to now wrap Moussa in cotton wool in preparation for Sunday.
Dundee began brightly in the sparkling Fife sunshine and none more so than the hat-trick hero. Scott Allan almost caught out Joe McGovern, brother of Northern Ireland’s Michael, with a cheeky fourth-minute free-kick from the left, and full-back Cammy Kerr fired in a stinging drive with the aid of the breeze moments later that the home keeper had to beat away.
Then it turned into the Moussa show. His first arrived in the 17th minute and was a glimpse of the predatory instinct in evidence throughout. Allan sought out space on the left edge of the box and his cross was weighted perfectly for Moussa’s arrival at the back post. It was no surprise to see the net bulge.
It took the former Tromso forward only six minutes to add a sensational second. Roarie Deacon stretched to keep the ball in on the bye-line and Moussa applied the coup de grace with an acrobatic overhead kick.
Dundee were clearly in the mood and skipper Darren O’Dea, restored to the team as one of four changes, had a close-range header parried away, while Moussa was denied by both McGovern and defender David Syme as he bore down on goal.
After screwing a free header wide from an Allan corner, the man of the moment would not be denied his hat-trick and capped a sumptuous first-half performance with his third seven minutes from the interval.
Deacon’s trickery took him deep into the Blue Brazil box and when Paul McGowan helped his pass on, Moussa knocked in from six yards out.
Cowdenbeath announced the signing of 18-year-old keeper Blair Penman, but the former Celtic youngster – who was on on trial at Hearts recently – only made it as far as the bench, and he may have been glad as he took in the Moussa masterclass.