Aberdeen defender Kari Arnason hopes to get rid of some painful memories in tomorrow’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Motherwell.
Icelandic international Arnason, 35, was in Craig Brown’s Dons side in 2012 when they fell at the penultimate hurdle in the national trophy against Hibernian.
It was 2-1 at Hampden against the Edinburgh side, with the one positive for the Red Army being an equalising wonder goal from striker Rory Fallon.
Arnason, who returned for a second spell at Pittodrie in the summer after leaving for Rotherham United at the end of the 2011-12 campaign, said: “Against Hibernian – I don’t remember it too well, apart from the fact we lost – and we didn’t deserve to.
“I have thought about that quite a lot – well, not a lot, but there have been glimpses from the game I remember.
“But not the game in total.
“It’s definitely something you want revenge for and you don’t want the feeling of losing twice in two (Scottish Cup semi-final) games.”
Garry O’Connor finished from close range to give Hibs a third-minute lead as Aberdeen’s attempt to end a 12-year Hampden losing streak got off to the worst possible start.
In a season where Arnason was one of the Dons’ shining lights, he could have done more to prevent O’Connor’s opener.
After a dismal first period, Fallon sent the travelling Red Army in to raptures on 59 minutes, taking the ball down on his chest and sending a looping volley over Hibs keeper Graham Stack and into the far top corner.
Aberdeen eventually lost the match with now-Celtic player Leigh Griffiths sending the Hibees to the final late on, where they were hammered 5-1 by city rivals Hearts.
While veteran Arnason was away from Pittodrie, boss Derek McInnes led the Dons out of their Hampden hoodoo. McInnes’ team lost a semi-final in January 2015 to Dundee United, but won two last season against Morton and Hibs, but lost both finals to Celtic.
The manager has also led them up the Premiership to three successive second place finishes and the League Cup, at Celtic Park, in 2014.
There is now an expectation from Aberdeen fans for their team to leave Mount Florida victorious again, and this, to Arnason’s mind, is a positive pressure – despite the occasional flak.
He said: “There is more confidence in these games, but with that confidence and the team doing so well in the (recent) past comes expectation.
“So when we don’t do well all hell breaks loose at the same time.
“Everyone knows and thinks you’re going to do a job, but if you don’t do that job you’re going to pay the price for it.
“I think it’s a good place to be in as a club, but it can be frustrating when you get criticised as a player.
“That’s life in the limelight, I suppose.”
However, Arnason, who is expected to play at the World Cup with Iceland in Russia this summer after being at Euro 2016 with the Vikings, doesn’t feel the weight of this expectation once the whistle goes.
He said: “I can only speak for myself and say that doesn’t play (a part) at all.
“I think it’s actually quite nice to know people actually care about it. It plays a big part in their life, not only mine.
“I’m working in a job where people actually care about what you’re doing.
“They care about you. Well, not you, but the club. And you’re part of the club.”
The emotional pain of an opportunity lost is not the only wound Arnason is looking to salve tomorrow – he’s got physical pain to make amends for too.
The ex-Malmo man, who has marked Cristiano Ronaldo in the UEFA Champions League, was forced to come off against Motherwell at Fir Park two weeks ago after being knocked to the ground with a nasty cut to his face.
He said: “I got hit on the chin. I got three stitches in my chin.
“I was just going to clear the line and he (the Well player) nudged Shinnie towards me and, him being a little bit smaller than me, it knocked his head into my chin.”
After a mixed bag of two wins and two losses against the Steelmen this term, including a jarring loss in the league cup, Arnason knows exactly how hard games against Motherwell can be physically.
He said: “They’re a very hard-working side and the games against them are a million miles an hour.
“The ball – it’s a lot of winning first and second balls, and we’ve had some trouble with them throughout the whole season.
“This game’s no different. It was just a matter of who got the first goal against them, we got that and got a bit of composure.
“At the same time, they’re very tough opponents. One of the toughest in the league.
“We’ll have to win the physical battle, but the pitch is going to be a bit bigger and a bit nicer than at Motherwell.
“So hopefully for everyone involved there will be a little bit more football played, but at the same time it is about the physical battle against them.”
Arnason added: “It’s a massive game obviously, you could say it’s hit or miss for the season. It’s a massive game and we want to get to the final and get some silverware for the club.
“In those terms it’s a huge game.”