Aberdeen on their guard

David McKinney previews tomorrow's Coca-Cola Cup final at Hampden Park
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The Independent Online
Dundee need look no further than Raith Rovers' exploits last season to give themselves the belief that they can win the Coca-Cola Cup when they face Aberdeen at Hampden in tomorrow's final.

Rovers, from the First Division, proved last season that miracles are possible even in the all-too-predictable world of Scottish football when they beat Celtic at Ibrox to lift the trophy. It is that triumph which will give Dundee hope and place Aberdeen on their guard.

If you need proof of miracles Jim Duffy is your man. Five years after being told he might not walk again after severing knee ligaments at Ibrox, the Dundee player-manager is featuring at the heart of their defence. Duffy returned to the game two years after retiring in 1987, determined to play for as long as he is able, and as he approaches his 37th birthday he will be involved in his first major final.

''It will be a major highlight for me and without doubt it will be as proud a day as I could have wished for in football.''

While Duffy polishes his boots Dundee supporters are preparing for their first cup final in 15 years and it is 22 years since Tommy Gemmill inspired Dundee to victory in this competition against his former club, Celtic.

The new kids on the Dundee block hold the key to victory. While the defence can be overly generous, Jim Hamilton and Neil McCann have been rewarded for sparkling performances by inclusion in the Scotland Under-21 side which has qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Championships. Behind them, Morten Weighorst, the Dane, provides menace from midfield and it is to these three that Dundee, whose chairman, Ron Dixon, flew in from Vancouver yesterday to end a 13-month absence from Tayside, will look for a matchwinner.

Their chances of success will depend on how well they cope with the occasion against an Aberdeen side increasingly confident after their 2-1 win over Rangers in the semi-final.

But if there is any complacency Roy Aitken, looking for his first trophy as a manager, will be quick to remind his players that Celtic were equally confident last season. ''I won many honours as a player but it would mean something very special to me if I was able to win this cup as a manager for the first time," he said.

A similar display to the one against Rangers should be enough to ensure red and white ribbons will hang from Aberdeen's first trophy in five years, but, against that, Dundee have disposed of Premier Division opposition in Kilmarnock and Hearts in reaching the final.

Aberdeen (possible): Watt; Grant, Inglis, Smith, McKimmie, Jess, Bernard, Miller, Glass, Booth, Dodds. Substitutes (from): Snelders or Stillie, Shearer, Hetherston, Thomson, Irvine, Robertson.

Dundee (possible): Pageaud; McQueen, Vrto, J Duffy, Manley, Wieghorst, N Duffy, Tosh, McCann, Shaw, Hamilton or Britton. Substitutes (from): Farningham, McGlynn or Mathers, Cargill, McBain, Anderson, McKeown.