Morton manager Jim Duffy reckons that despite intense preparations for their Betfred Cup semi-final with Aberdeen next Saturday at Hampden, he is not sure how his players, including the much-talked-about Jai Quitongo, will do against the Dons.
Duffy explained: “We have done really well to get to this stage as we have a young squad, in fact it is a very young squad. We will prepare well but the one thing that you cannot legislate for is how well they will handle the occasion of playing in such a big match.”
“Aberdeen have young players but their young players have big match experience and ours don’t. Ideally our players will handle the game in their stride and go out and show that they are enjoying all the attention the game brings.”
“The worst case scenario is that they will freeze. It is the club’s first semi-final since 1979 and you do not really know what will happen until the game has started.
“We faced Celtic in a quarter-final last season in the Scottish Cup and we appeared to get caught up in the occasion and found ourselves three goals down by half-time.”
Duffy added: “Hopefully we have learned from that and are switched on from the first whistle.”
One of the young players experiencing a game of this magnitude for the first time is Quitongo, pictured, who actually joined Morton after a period with the Dons.
Duffy is keen to protect the pacey frontman from the burden of expectation as he explained: “Jai definitely has potential but he has a lot to learn about the game. He joined our under-20 squad last year after being at Aberdeen but he had spent time at a number of clubs including Hamilton, Dundee and Dundee United.”
“They have all looked to unlock his potential and the fact that he is here now emphasises that they were not able to do that.
“He has plenty of self-confidence but he had to come here and prove that he had the right mental approach to learning. He has done that under the guidance of Andy Millen in the under-20s as well as Craig McPherson and myself in the first team.”
“He is a better player now but his game awareness is not fully developed. Jai can run at teams but he needs to learn more about creating and finding space with and without the ball.”
“He could go out and give Aberdeen a right hard time, but like the rest of the players we do not know if they will do that until they have shown they can handle the magnitude of the game.”