Football: Treble chance for Rangers: David McKinney on a final matching the bravest and best in Scotland

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The Independent Online
RANGERS and Aberdeen will walk out on to Celtic Park this afternoon looking to add credibility to their seasons by lifting the Scottish Cup.

Only in the most extraordinary of seasons could the winning of the Scottish Cup be seen as a consolation, and although Rangers have already been successful in the Skol Cup and the league it will take the sight of the famous trophy resting for a 26th time in the Ibrox trophy room, and with it a fifth 'treble' success, for their club to console its supporters for falling late in a European campaign.

In the other camp, Willie Miller, the Aberdeen manager, never settled for second-best in his playing career - and being runners-up in both the Skol Cup and League grates.

Rangers are backed by a history and tradition which demands constant success and the setting of standards. This season they have clinched a fifth successive Premier League title. Success today would prove an achievement ranking with any of their previous four 'trebles'.

The key to the cup will rest in several areas where individual battles will determine the outcome of the war, with the midfield destined to be something of a minefield.

The main event there is likely to be contested between Aberdeen's Brian Grant and Rangers' influential Stuart McCall, who has a reputation for perpetual motion and bite in the tackle. His team thrive on his contribution and it will be up to Grant to stem his distribution.

The final will be contested between the two best sides operating in Scotland, with both forward lines capable of inflicting damage on any defence. Mark Hateley, the Rangers striker, has been impressive over the season, scoring 28 goals, and in the absence of the injured Ally McCoist is likely to be partnered by Ian Durrant. The task of shackling them will fall to Brian Irvine and Alex McLeish, while the Dons will look to their young pretenders for the goals which would take the cup north for the eighth time. Scott Booth is certain to start the game, but Miller must decide on the readiness of Eoin Jess, who has recovered from an ankle injury but his game may still be rusty.

Rangers have shown already this season they can rise to the occasion and the destination of the cup would be decided on whether or not they can do so one more time. Aberdeen require victory to underline the growing challenge of their young players to the Ibrox monopoly.

Rangers (probable): Goram; McPherson, D Robertson, Gough, Brown, McCall, Gordon, Ferguson, Huistra, Hateley, Durrant.

Aberdeen (probable): Snelders; Wright, Smith, Irvine, McLeish, Mason, Richardson, Grant, Paatelainen, Shearer, Booth.