Scottish Football: Rangers ready to repel northern invaders

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The Independent Online
TODAY'S Premier Division programme is merely a prelude to the weekend's main event in Scotland: the meeting of Rangers and Aberdeen in the Skol Cup final at Hampden Park tomorrow.

The Dons, to their extreme displeasure, missed out on a place in Europe this term, but that has enabled them to approach the final in a considerably fresher state than the men from Ibrox, who no doubt will be feeling the effects of their midweek European Cup exertions against Leeds United. Rangers had to work hard to overturn a goal deficit against the English champions - but such is the strength of their squad that men who played no part on Wednesday, such as Dale Gordon and Alexei Mikhailichenko, could step in tomorrow without weakening the side.

Ally McCoist has a personal target: victory over the Pittodrie club would give him seven Skol Cup winners' medals, equalling the record held by Davie Cooper, the former Rangers winger who is now with Motherwell. McCoist has hit five goals in his seven previous finals, including two in the 3-2 win over the Dons in 1988 - one of three successive finals between the clubs in the tournament.

'We have enjoyed some classic finals,' McCoist said. 'If we can generate the same football as we did in those years it should be a great occasion. Although it comes only a few days after the European Cup game, we have got to be in the right frame of mind for the final.'

Willie Miller faced McCoist in each of those three successive finals, but the rugged defender has called time on his playing career, and will be looking to secure his first trophy as Aberdeen's manager. His former partner, Alex McLeish, is still on duty at the heart of the Dons' defence, however. 'People say that Rangers are stronger and better, but I know we can compete with them,' McLeish said. Jim Bett, the Scotland midfielder, could return for the Dons after injury.

Tony Parks, the 29-year-old former Tottenham goalkeeper, makes his debut for Falkirk against Dundee United in the Premier Division at Brockville Park today. Parks has been without a club since being released by West Ham in the summer.