Aberdeen youngster Mair ahead of Scottish Youth Cup clash with Rangers: ‘You have to beat the best to be the best’

Archie Mair in action for Aberdeen.
Archie Mair in action for Aberdeen.

Teenage keeper Archie Mair today called for the Dons to see off Rangers to book a second straight SFA Youth Cup final slot.

Aberdeen will face the Gers in the semi-final tomorrow at 2pm at Cove Rangers’ Balmoral Stadium.

The 18-year-old stopper was an unused substitute when the Dons lost the final 3-1 to Hibs at Hampden last season.

The Scotland Under-19 international is determined to book a final return to the national stadium and go one better this time by helping the Reds lift the prestigious cup for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

He said: “We have a team capable of beating Rangers to get to the final and then win the cup.

“Aberdeen, as a football club, should be aiming to win everything they participate in, no matter the age group.

“This side definitely have the ability to do that.

“Rangers in the semi is probably the toughest game we could get but you have to beat the best to be the best and that is what we intend to be.”

Mair’s determination to be part of a Dons side that is “the best” is a refreshing stance and will serve him well in what is tipped to be a successful career at Pittodrie.

He is set to start against Rangers tomorrow.

Mair said: “I was an unused substitute in the final last year and it was a great occasion to be involved in.

“It would be great to go a step further than we did last year by winning the cup, as it is a big tournament and taken very seriously at the club.

“I got a runners-up medal last year but they are not the ones you want to keep. I aim to try to get a winner’s medal this year.”

Last season was the first time Aberdeen had reached the SFA Youth Cup final since 2003, when they lost 3-1 to Celtic.

Now they are gunning for back-to-back finals for the first time since the mid-eighties.

Despite the 2pm kick-off, Mair hopes the Red Army will come out in force.

He said: “The timing of the final is not great but hopefully we can get a decent support along, as that would help us. It will be a decent game to watch for those who come along.

“Home advantage could help us out. When you speak to a lot of the Rangers boys they hate Aberdeen away.”

Aberdeen progressed past Kilmarnock (2-1), Motherwell (1-0) and Inverurie Locos (5-0) to set up the semi-final showdown.

Mair, who initially signed with Aberdeen as a nine-year-old, will go into tomorrow’s clash on a high having recently returned from a trip to Spain with the Scotland U19 squad.

He started in a 1-1 draw with the Spaniards and was on the bench for a 2-0 defeat of Azerbaijan. He believes going toe to toe with international powers like Spain is an achievement that will be delivered by the Scotland squads of the future.

He said: “It was just over a year since we played Spain the last time and we beat them 2-1. To have one win and a draw against Spain is not a bad record, as they are one of the best teams.

“There is definitely a strong crop of Scottish players coming through. Technically, we are up there with all the nations in Europe.

“When we faced Spain we played our own football and didn’t sit off them and defend, to try to nick a goal. We took them on and had as much possession as them.

“That is what is happening with young Scotland teams and players coming through Performance Schools. Everyone is technically good and we can go to countries like Spain and take them on in their own back yard.

“That is what Scotland is going to be about in the future.”

Mair insists there is also an exciting generation of talent breaking through at Pittodrie.

Already this season Dean Campbell, Connor McLennan, Bruce Anderson, Frank Ross and Ethan Ross have featured for the first team.

He said: “There is a really good crop of youngsters coming through, which is exciting for the club in the future.”

Scotland youth international keeper Mair has been working with first-team stoppers Joe Lewis and No 2 Tomas Cerny.

He said: “I train with them, which is great. I don’t think there is a better role model for me to look up to than Joe, as he has been one of the club’s best players since he came and I really enjoy working with him.

“Tomas came in and made his debut against Hibs (when Lewis sustained a head cut), which is a credit to him as he is always working hard and putting in 100% every day.”