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Ilmari Niskanen on his cup tie nightmare and how he wants to avoid the same fate at Dundee United

Ilmari Niskanen
Ilmari Niskanen is determined against Rangers

Ilmari Niskanen spent some time in Finland during the winter break ‘enjoying’ the sub-zero conditions in his snow-hit homeland.

Temperatures plummeted to -20 as he waded through 20 inches of snow on a brief trip back home as he reflected on his first six months at Dundee United.

And while he came out of cold storage to star as United lost to St Mirren in midweek, Niskanen is keen to turn the heat up on Scottish Cup rivals Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Cup ties have been far from fun for Niskanen to date.

In fact, he suffered one of the worst experiences of his career as a teenage KuPS star facing Inter Turku in the semi-final of the Finnish Cup in 2015.

Ilmari Niskanen suffered cup heartbreak when he starred in Finland

Finally-poised at 1-1, Turku had two players sent off just before the end of normal time.

That left Niskanen’s side facing nine men but the then teenage star missed a golden late chance with his side losing on penalties.

“That was one of the worst memories of my career so far,” said Niskanen.

“Inter Turku had two players sent off but we couldn’t score in extra-time and they won on penalties.

“I was young, only 18 at the time. I was one-on-one with the keeper in extra-time but couldn’t score.

Ilmari Niskanen
Ilmari Niskanen is keen to make an impression at Dundee United

“At the time, I felt really bad. It was a big deal for us because we had been in three finals in four years and lost every time.

“But I’m over it now and want to make an impact with Dundee United in the Scottish Cup.

“I’ve heard about the club’s history in this tournament but I’m focused on Kilmarnock. It will be a huge game.”

Ilmari Niskanen: I’ll help my Finnish team-mate Carljohan Eriksson settle in Scotland

Meanwhile, Niskanen is delighted to link up with his international team-mate Carjohan Eriksson.

Keeper Eriksson joined United at the start of January and Niskanen has turned into his Dundee tour guide.

“It’s nice having another Finnish player here,” said Niskanen.

“I’ve shown him about the city a bit and it’s good having someone else to talk in Finnish to.

“He asked for my advice before signing and I told him great things about the city and the club.

“Carljohan has had a great couple of years in Sweden. He’s been in the last two international squads with me and kept a clean sheet on his debut.

“He’ll be a valuable addition to our squad.”

EXCLUSIVE: Marc McNulty insists Dundee United is a happy camp and vows to help the fans smile again



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