Football: Scottish Football - Anxious Airdrie ready to battle

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The Independent Online
ALEX MACDONALD watched Rangers' marvellous Uefa Cup victory against Bayer Leverkusen with a mixture of admiration and trepidation. For his Airdrieonians side are next in the firing line tomorrow at Celtic Park in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.

The former Ibrox star MacDonald is only too aware of the task awaiting them following Rangers' 2-1 win in Germany on Thursday night. "It was always going to be very difficult for us, irrespective of what Rangers achieved last night," he said. "But you have to say that the way they handled themselves against a team from the Bundesliga was very impressive. They carved out a number of chances and it was good to see them winning with style."

Rangers are on course for the third round of the competition after victory in the first leg. Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Jonatan Johansson got the goals, but the star of the show was the 20-year-old midfielder Barry Ferguson. MacDonald quipped: "He is some player but maybe he should have come to Airdrie when he was nine to learn his trade."

Airdrie, lying second in the First Division, have already dismissed Kilmarnock and Celtic on their way to the last four. Defeating the other half of the Old Firm would be an incredible achievement for the Diamonds. MacDonald said: "Nobody gives us a chance but we have shown in the past what we can do.

"We are now making good progress as a club and doing well in the League. There is confidence about the place as we are on course for promotion at the moment."

Airdrie reached the final of the Scottish Cup against the odds in 1995, losing 1-0 to Celtic. But on Sunday they could be without Paul Jack, Anthony Smith, Sandy Stewart and David Farrell, who are all injured.

Rangers will again be without Lorenzo Amoruso, who was sent off for violent conduct against Hearts last week. Scott Wilson looks set to continue alongside Colin Hendry after looking very assured against Leverkusen.

"Everyone expects us to win but Airdrie did a good job against Celtic and Kilmarnock," said the Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat. "When you are this close to a final you want to play in it.

"Of course my players are a little bit tired after the European match. But they have had time to recover and it is more important they are fresh in their heads than their legs."

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