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Hibs v Ayr United: Dickoh knows his history, but present is real priority

Scottish Cup fourth round At Easter Road, today, kick-off 3pm

• Regardless of Hibs' tortured Scottish Cup history, Francis Dickoh knows a good run in the tournament could help lift the club in the second half of the season Picture: SNS

You would think that Francis Dickoh, a Danish-born Ghanaian international who previously plied his trade in Holland, would not have heard about Hibs and their failure to win the Scottish Cup since 1902, but apparently the sad history is taught to everyone soon after they arrive at Easter Road.

The central defender was a bit vague on the details - "It's a time...109 years? Does it surprise me? If that's the facts, then yes." Yet, like every Hibs player, he knows the Cup has proved elusive and he and his colleagues desperately want to win it, not least because any sort of victorious run would be welcome and might just prove a springboard for a second-half-of-the-season push.

Today they start this season's Cup with what should be a pushover fourth- round tie against Ayr United, a side from two leagues lower down than Hibs, but Dickoh echoed his manager, Colin Calderwood, in saying that no one at the Easter Road club was taking the visitors lightly.

"Given our situation we need to take every game seriously," said Dickoh, "and I can guarantee that everybody will be playing with their hearts on their sleeves. It's a game of football, it's 11 against 11, and you need to respect your opponents, and we do. But we are clear favourites and we need to win this game. We're playing at home, we should be fitter than them and playing full throttle at home, and it is a game that can really give us a boost, we know that, because we need to get that feeling of winning again back.

"We haven't won since Motherwell and that's far back. We need a win and we need that win not only for ourselves but for the supporters to get that backing that we haven't received so far. We need that for the rest of the season. It's our months, and we really need everybody on board."

All cups are the same, he said - "you need to be in the final, you need to go as far as possible," - but, so far, his personal forays have been limited. "I haven't gone past the quarter-finals with my former team (FC Utrecht]. They always say it is the quickest way to Europe and think it's massive glory if you can take the cup.

"I don't see it as a break in the league, I see it as a competition where you can actually do something really marvellous if you take every game for what it is.

"For me it's not just another game, because obviously you win or you are out. But it's a game of football and any game can turn on luck or confidence level."

Dickoh said it took him until Thursday to get over the pain of losing to Hearts in last week's derby match. He said: "I was massively disappointed, being a defender. We have conceded very sloppy goals and I thought their goal again was one we could have prevented. But we gave our all and everybody showed that at least the character is there.

"You can discuss whether we played 100 per cent technically or tactically, but at least we wanted to run the necessary metres to close them down and we wanted to do a good job.

"The spirit was there, the will was there, we just need the finish, and when you are in a hole you don't tend to get that on your side."

How does he think the new central defensive partnership with Paul Hanlon will pan out? "As a central defender you always want as much experience at the back as you can get. Paul is already an experienced player as he captained the [Scotland] under-21s in their last game. I thought he had a super game against Hearts and I think our understanding can grow even better.

"The only thing I know is that we are conceding too many goals, and though I'm not saying it is the two centre-halves' fault, we are at the heart of defence and we can see everything in front of us and we should be able to contribute more and I think we can do that."

However, Dickoh has admitted he does not know where Ayr is. Dickoh said he would not be able to pinpoint Ayr on a map and is happy the game with the Irn-Bru Second Division side is at home. "I would probably point to Denmark," said the Ghana international.

But Calderwood is not too concerned. "The Ayr that he's got to know about will be in the opposite half on Saturday," said the Hibernian manager.

 
 
 

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