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Trinidad and Tobago teammates Jason Scotland and Collin Samuel will play in the biggest game of their careers today when Dundee United face fellow Scottish Premier League combatants, Celtic, from 10 a.m. (T&T time) in the Scottish FA Cup final at Scotland's national stadium in Hampden Park.


The game, which is the closing act of the 2004/05 SPL season, will be broadcast live throughout Britain as well as various parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

And Scotland, who came off the bench to score United's decisive goal at the same venue to overcome Hibernian 2-1 in the semi-final round, is dreaming about the atmosphere and the occasion.

"It is the biggest game of my career," Scotland told the Trinidad Express. "Just knowing that it will be on Sky (television network) and the whole world will be watching. I would love to play from the start and let people see what I can do because everyone here says that I play my best as a substitute."

United manager Gordon Chisholm confirmed that Scotland would play from the start in their final session yesterday as he chose to use their usual 3-5-2 system. It means that Samuel, who is a guaranteed starter in their more conservative 4-5-1 line-up, will be on the bench.

Although Samuel is considered a squad player at United, Chisholm would not hesitate to use him in the biggest game of their season.

The versatile 23-year-old winger struggled to make an impact since his move from Division One team, Falkirk, in mid-2003. He scored 16 times at Falkirk but just twice last season for United and is yet to open his account in this SPL term.

In the right set-up, though, Samuel shone on both visits to the Old Firm-Glasgow Rangers and Celtic-this season when United used him as an orthodox winger in a 4-5-1 line-up.

They lost 1-0 at Celtic Park but stunned Rangers 1-0.

United are massive underdogs today but both players hope to benefit from Celtic's off-the-field distractions. Celtic manager Martin O'Neill resigns after today's match to spend more time with his ailing wife and will be replaced by Gordon Strachan, while the club is still distraught after losing the League title to Rangers in the final two minutes of the season.

"I don't feel they are overwhelming favourites because of what is happening right now with the manager leaving the job and so on," said Scotland. "Their minds might be off the football a little bit On the other hand, they would want to win a cup because they haven't won anything this season so it will be a hard game.Â

"But you saw what happened with AC Milan and Liverpool (in the European Champions League final). Everyone thought Milan would be easy winners."

If United pull off the win, Samuel and Scotland will emulate compatriot Jerren Nixon, who won the Scottish FA Cup with United in 1994.

Nixon, who was in his debut season at United, played the final seven minutes of the match as United edged Rangers 1-0.

No other Trinidad and Tobago player has played in a Scottish FA Cup final-former national captain, Russell Latapy, was at Rangers when they won in 2002 but never made it onto the field.

A Dundee United victory would also mean that Trinidad and Tobago players were involved in every Scottish trophy capture this season for the first time.

Marvin Andrews won the League title with Rangers and also inspired them to CIS Cup success, although he missed the final through injury.

It is a tall task for United, though. No team outside the Old Firm has won the cup since Hearts in 1998, while the fall in television revenue has widened the financial gap between Scotland's two giant clubs and the chasing pack.

Samuel believes that if United play the ball into Scotland's feet, then United have a chance to penetrate Celtic's hulking central defensive pairing of Bobo Balde and Stanislav Varga-both of whom dwarf even the six-foot-two Andrews.

"I don't have any chance in the air (against Balde) although I will still challenge him," said the 26-year-old Scotland, who has five goals this season. "But I think I can take him on the ground because he is big and can't turn and run as well. It will be a good challenge for me against him and Varga."

Of course, United must still stop Celtic's giant attackers, John Hartson and Chris Sutton, as well as speedy, maverick striker Craig Bellamy, who scored a superb hat-trick the last time the sides met. The visiting Celtic defeated United 3-2 on that occasion.

Scotland and Samuel hope for a starring role in a United reversal at Hampden Park.