Last updated : 01 October 2004 By Brian Murray
The success of Hearts and Rangers to reach the group stages of the Uefa Cup are great news not only for Scottish football in general, but for Kilmarnock in particular.

Riding high on confidence after Kris Boyd's five goal bonanza, Killie will have watched Rangers labour for two hours to break down the resolute Maritimo defence. The Rangers players deserve enormous credit for the way they stuck to their task, and maintained the tempo of the match all the way through ninety minutes and extra time, but the amount of physical and mental energy expended will be difficult to recoup in time for Sunday's match. There has never been a better time for Killie to go and attack Rangers on their own patch.

Players such as Dado Prso and Steven Thompson are dangerous in a full-bodied arial assault, but the form of David Lilley and Freddy Dindeleux, with the added security of Gordon Greer at fullback should stop too many meaningful attempts raining down on Alan Combe.

At the other end, Danny Invincibile's pace, together with Allan Johnston on his return to the scene of his finest hour, will see Killie create chances for Boyd. While no-one will expect him to convert every chance that comes his way as he did against United, it is a fair bet for him to be on the scoresheet once again.

Memories of Kilmarnock's 3-0 demolition of Rangers in October 2000 will be fresh in the mnd of many travelling fans, but I'll settle for 1-0.

Meanwhile Hearts's fantastic result against Braga, and the financial windfall of the group stages, will secure their future and their position as the third team in Scotland for the next few seasons. But, it may deny them that lofty finish this season, as their squad isn't strong enough to equip them for two months (and hopefully more) of European distraction. While they will be able to strengthen in the summer, teams like Kilmarnock and Aberdeen should have the opportunity to make a sustained challenge for next season's European spots.