Europe Still A Realistic Goal
Updated Saturday, 19th April 2008
Three teams have European ambitions as they tick off the last five fixtures of the season.
Hibs striker Colin Nish believes the it will take all five games left in the season to decide which team wins the race for a UEFA Cup place. Hibs, Dundee United and Motherwell are all hoping the results will go their way. They former two meet tomorrow at Tannadice and the result will have a huge bearing on who wins the three-team fight for European qualification. Nish expects many twists and turns before a possible winner-takes-all final home fixture with Motherwell on May 18. Nish said: "All the games are going to massive from now on and we're just looking to Sunday to get three points which would kick us on for the last four games. We've got to take as many points as we can out of the first couple of matches to keep ourselves going. We've got a chance, you can see the fixtures and if we can get to the last game knowing we have to win to get into the UEFA Cup I think we'd settle for that. I would be quite happy if we're already guaranteed third place before then, but I think we would have a slight advantage if we knew that we had to win to get into Europe."
Nish is a boyhood Hibs fan and admits playing in Europe would hold extra meaning for him. The former Kilmarnock forward, who has scored four goals since his arrival from Rugby Park in January, added: "I've never played in Europe before so obviously it would be a massive thing for me personally, especially to play for Hibs. I've been to a couple of European nights as fan but I can't remember who they were against. They are big occasions and ones that we can hopefully look forward to next season."
Easter Road manager Mixu Paatelainen will have to shuffle his defensive pack for tomorrow as Chris Hogg is a major doubt with a knee injury and captain Rob Jones is suspended. But despite the aerial threat that United pose, he feels his team will cope with the threat posed. Paatelainen said: "We'll be fine - we know exactly how Dundee United play. They put quite a lot of long balls to their strikers because they're good in the air. They are direct and we must have players capable of competing against them. We have to concentrate."
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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