Bett relishes tilt at another cup final

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The Independent Online
FOOTBALL

Jim Bett has set his sights on a seventh Scottish Cup final appearance, after his inspirational performance for Hearts in Monday's 4-2 Tennents Scottish Cup fourth-round win over Rangers at Tynecastle. Hearts now contest a home quarter-final against the holders, Dundee United, on 12 March.

Bett, who left Aberdeen last summer to play for FC Reykjavik in Iceland, admitted: "I thought I'd seen the last of big televised games like Monday's with Hearts. I was pushing 35 when I went to Iceland last summer, and I'd actually decided that I wasn't coming back to Scottish football."

However, the new Hearts manager, Tommy McLean, once his team-mate at Rangers, knew who he wanted to lead the line in his Tynecastle revolution, and got Bett under contract until the end of May.

Bett still has not decided what will happen after that, although an offer to return to Iceland is on the table. "I'm enjoying it at the moment, and obviously this was a brilliant result for the club as Rangers were favourites for the Cup."

Bett collected his first winners' medal in 1981 with Rangers, and was a runner-up in 1982 and 1983. He was a winner again in 1986 and 1990 with Aberdeen. His sixth appearance in a final came two years ago as Aberdeen went down 2-1 to Rangers.

Hearts, who have not won the Cup for 39 years, also ended a 17-match run without a win against Rangers, stretching back to August 1991. "I didn't realise it was so long, but what better time to break that hoodoo?" Bett asked. "It's always great to beat Rangers, because they are the biggest club in the country, so it does everybody's confidence the world of good. I only hope the United tie is as exciting."

He is suspended for the next two league games against Celtic and Partick Thistle, but will be desperate to return for the quarter-final, with history favouring Hearts, as United have not won at Tynecastle for 10 years.

However, following Rangers' exit, Celtic have been installed as the new bookmakers' favourites to end their six-year trophy famine by lifting the cup on 27 May.

After Monday's match was shown in Britain on Sky Television, Hearts are set to go live again. Their match with Dundee United will be shown live by BBC Scotland on Sunday 12 March. Sky have the option to screen live one of the other games between Celtic and Kilmarnock, Stenhousemuir and Hibs, or Raith and Airdrie on 13 March.

Rangers, meanwhile, were licking their wounds after a third cup exit this season. Walter Smith's team were beaten by AEK Athens in the preliminary round of the European Cup, and by Falkirk in the Coca-Cola Cup, so Monday's defeat completed an unwanted treble.

Smith has confirmed that his striker, Mark Hateley, is to see a specialist about a groin problem, which was the reason for his absence on Monday. Only after the diagnosis has been completed will Rangers know if Hateley needs surgery - and if he will return again this season.

Andy Goram is in a similar position with a thigh problem, while Ally McCoist is also out of action. But as Rangers have a 14-point lead at the top of the Premier Division, there would seem little chance of a seventh successive championship not coming to Ibrox.

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