JACK Ross insists taking on Celtic tonight is an even greater task for Alloa Athletic than their opponents faced against Barcelona last week.
Ross pored over Brendan Rodgers’ opinions on Celtic’s mammoth Champions League challenge in the Nou Camp last Tuesday and, thinking of this evening’s Betfred Cup quarter-final tie, knew what he was going through.
The Wasps will be hoping to avoid the kind of embarrassing 7-0 thrashing that befell the Scottish champions in Spain and, in fact, are heading into the match full of optimism they can pull off a huge shock.
However, Ross has acknowledged his League One part-timers are confronted with an even bigger test than the Hoops endured in trying in vain to tame Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in Barcelona.
Ross told Capital City Press: “I read quite a lot of Brendan Rodgers’ comments prior to the Barcelona game last week and I thought they were all sensible.
“And, to be honest, I could have copied and pasted them for myself ahead of this week’s game, because they are very similar.
“I dare say the disparity between ourselves and Celtic, in terms of turnover and budget, etc., is probably a great deal larger than that between Celtic and Barcelona.
“So, that just shows you the size of the task we have.
“It flips round for them and, for us, it flips as well, because the way we have started the season we go into games almost as favourites at the moment.
“For this tie we’re not just underdogs but huge underdogs.
“There’s no point in me kidding the players on and saying it’s not going to be a difficult match. They know that, they’re a sensible group as well.
“But the way we’ve played this season means we have an opportunity and the one thing we have to stress is they are only two games away from a cup final.
“You can’t forget that, regardless of who the opposition is.”
Alloa, who had already defeated Premiership Ross County in the group phase, created history when they defeated Inverness Caley Thistle in the last round to earn their trip to Parkhead.
They became the first Wasps side to reach the last-eight of the competition since 1965 and, buoyed by 11 wins from 12 competitive matches so far this season, are daring to dream of smashing records this evening.
Ross added: “It’s absolutely the easiest thing for me and the players to say it, but if we don’t as a group believe we can create more history and keep ourselves in the competition then there’s no point in us turning up or getting off the bus.
“If that’s not the case then we’re beaten before the game starts.
“The group will absolutely feel that they’ve got an opportunity to make themselves history-makers again, in an even bigger sense. That motivation is huge, regardless of the opposition.
“I have huge respect for Celtic as a club and what they have achieved and what they’re doing at the moment. I was up in Inverness on Sunday watching them and they are a very good side.
“But the reason we watch football on a regular basis is because there are unpredictable aspects of it and hopefully Wednesday night will be one of those.”