BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts stalwart Neil Alexander insists the whole of Edinburgh will be toasting their tie against Hibernian – as he eyes a run to the Scottish Cup final.
The Jambos saw off one of the favourites for the competition by defeating Aberdeen 1-0 in an ill-tempered clash at Tynecastle on Saturday night.
Callum Paterson’s winning goal against the Dons was Hearts’ first in the tournament since lifting the trophy with a 5-1 win over Hibs in 2012.
And, after being paired with the Hibees for a place in the last eight, the 37-year-old believes the Gorgie men have a good enough side to go all the way to Hampden again.
Alexander, who boasts two Scottish Cup winners’ medals from his time at Rangers, said: “We have a very good up-and-coming team and we are getting better as the weeks go on. We only want to look at one round at a time – but we have got a chance.
“Aberdeen were one of the favourites and we’ve managed to put them out, we’ve avoided Rangers and Celtic, so Hibs were probably the next biggest team we could have played.
“If we are going to get to the final then we have got to beat the big teams. Alan Stubbs has Hibs playing really well this season and they are challenging Rangers for the Championship.
“They are playing good football, so we are under no illusions that it will be a tough game, but it’s one we believe that we can progress from.”
With the fierce foes in separate divisions, and Hearts out of the League Cup, this competition was the last chance to avoid an entire season without an Edinburgh derby since the 1998/99 campaign.
And Alexander is relishing the encounter next month, after admitting the prospect of a campaign without crossing swords with the Hibees was “disappointing”.
The former Scotland goalkeeper told BBC Scotland: “I’m delighted with the draw and, for the whole city of Edinburgh, it is one everyone can look forward to.
“It’s great to have the Edinburgh derby back. It was disappointing that Hibs didn’t come up last year and we’ve missed it this year. To draw Hibs in the cup – it’s one to look forward to, for players and fans alike.
“It will be a massive game and is probably pick of the draw. But we’ve got some big league games before then so it will be a big four weeks for us.”
Meanwhile, Jambos head coach Robbie Neilson reckons home advantage will be pivotal as they look to avoid “an upset” against Stubbs’ side.
Neilson beamed: ”It’s an incredible draw, the tie of the round without a shadow of a doubt.
“For me, getting a home draw was always the big thing. We fancy our chances against anybody at home, regardless of league or position. We’ve got a good record against Hibs but they’ll come looking to cause an upset.
“We’ll be wary of that but we’ll also focus on ourselves, play our own game and play with confidence. I’m really looking forward to it.”