Ange Postecoglou: Celtic must embrace massive consequences of Rangers cup clash

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has urged his players to seize the opportunity to add to his legacy when they face Rangers in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

Postecoglou’s side travel to Hampden on Sunday with the chance of a fifth treble in six seasons.

Two wins over Rangers this year have helped Celtic move six points clear of the Premiership title race with five games remaining.

A hat-trick of derby wins would leave Postecoglou within striking distance of following in the footsteps of Jock Stein, Martin O’Neill, Brendan Rodgers and Neil Lennon to secure a clean sweep of domestic trophies.

The former Australia head coach told Celtic TV: “It’s a cup semi-final, so there’s meaning at the end, there’s consequences at the end.

“Every cup game you play, if you want to progress, you have to perform on the day and do the work on the day. There are no second chances.

“Particularly in a semi-final, it will be a close game, it will be an incredible atmosphere.

“Players know the occasion, I don’t have to dress it up or dress it up other than it’s going to be a massive game with massive consequences, and it’s exactly where we want to be.”

A small group of 700 Celtic fans watched their side win 2-1 at Ibrox earlier this month after a two-year absence of away fans from the derby.

The neutral Hampden venue will allow some 25,000 supporters from each side of the Glasgow divide to create a completely different atmosphere.

“It will be a different and unique experience, and again something to embrace,” Postecoglou said.

“It’s what we all want to be involved in, games where in the end, hopefully, you create memories that will last beyond your own lifetime.

“That is the opportunity that exists and it is one that we are waiting for.”

While Rangers take on Braga in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday, Celtic will have extra time to prepare for the cup tie.

Rangers will have played twice before kick-off since Celtic beat St Johnstone 7-0 to bolster their title ambitions.

Postecoglou is confident in his side’s ability to tackle any schedule, but will be looking to make the most of the interval between matches.

“It’s a benefit because we will use it that way,” he said. “Depends on what you do with those days. We don’t have a week where we can relax, it’s a week where we can put solid work into the players.

“Now, if we had a game, that would still work the same way.

“Our battle at the beginning of the year was that we didn’t have a robust and strong enough team to cope with sometimes three games in a week and maintain our level. But with the team that we have now, I would be sure that if we had a game in the middle of the week it would not affect our performance on the weekend.

“But having a full week allows us to work really hard with the guys and get ready and play our football. We have that extra time, so we’re going to use it.”

The timing could give Giorgos Giakoumakis and David Turnbull a chance to play against the Rangers.

The Greek striker injured his hamstring and went out in the first half against St Johnstone, while midfielder Turnbull finished the match with a knock.

On Giakoumakis, Postecoglou said: “Nothing concrete yet. We are still waiting for the final scans. Let’s hope it’s not that bad. He feels it’s not that bad, but again, until we get the information, we won’t know.

“Like David Turnbull, he was hit pretty hard. It’s only been a couple of days, so we’ll see how things calm down with both of them. I hope it’s not too long an absence.”