Considine busting a gut in Dubai to ensure Red Army taste cup final glory once again

Chidi Nwakali (left) with Andrew Considine during the warm weather training camp in Dubai.

Defender Andy Considine has challenged the Dons to use their Scottish Cup final heartache to drive their bid to lift the trophy this year.

Aberdeen begin their Scottish Cup quest when they host St Mirren in the fourth round next weekend on their return from a warm weather camp in Dubai.

The 30-year-old admits he was heartbroken to lose 2-1 to Celtic in the Hampden showpiece due to an injury-time goal.

For Considine, the target for the second half of the season is simple – improve on last year.

For the club’s longest-serving player that means staying within touching distance of Celtic in the league and ending the club’s 28-year wait for the Scottish Cup. Time nor distance has diminished the hurt of that Scottish Cup final defeat.

As we talked in the Dons’ luxurious beachfront hotel in the Middle East, the defender may have been 3,500 miles away from Scotland.

But at the mention of the Scottish Cup final he was immediately transported back to that devastating disappointment at the national stadium last May.

Such was the pain of that loss Considine doesn’t even know where his runners-up medal is – and he doesn’t care.

All he is interested in is lifting silverware and collecting winner’s medals.

He said: “It was heartbreaking to lose the Scottish Cup final as we went toe-to-toe with Celtic for most of the game.

“It was such a sore one to take but it will spur myself and the rest of the boys to go one step further in the cup this year.”

Aberdeen are enjoying the sun in the Middle East while occupying second spot in the Premiership table just eight points adrift of defending champions and leaders Celtic.

When they jetted out to Dubai in January last year that gap was an 18-point chasm which would ultimately expand to 30 by the end of the campaign.

So there has been progress in the league but Considine is a realist and accepts Aberdeen’s best chance of success is in the knock-out format of the Scottish Cup this year.

One-off cup games where all that matters is if you bring your best performance on the day.

In 38-game league campaigns Celtic’s superior depth of squad and massive spending power have proven pivotal in recent seasons.

As Considine readied himself for an early afternoon training session at the facilities just a five-minute drive from the hotel, he said: “It is tough to grab the league the way Celtic are going at the minute.

“Yes, they slip up now and again but Celtic are a very strong outfit.

“Our aim is to be within touching distance of them all season and that would be a huge step up from last year.

“And obviously to go one further than last year in being able to get to the Scottish Cup final and lift it would be incredible.

“It is the one thing you want to look back on when your time is up in football. You want to be able to show your kids and grandkids that you have these winner’s medals.”

The key word here is “winner’s”.

Where is the loser’s gong from May’s cup final?

“I don’t know where it is in my house,” he said.

“It was so disappointing to lose that final as Celtic managed to show a bit of quality in the dying minutes to steal the game.

“We had a very good chance in the second-half and if you don’t take them there is the chance that will bite you.

“But if that chance had gone our way, goodness knows what could have happened.”

Aberdeen kick off their Scottish Cup campaign against in-form Championship leaders St Mirren.

Considine has suffered cup heartache at the hands of lower league opposition in the past and would never underestimate their threat.

He said: “St Mirren are flying high in the league and deservedly so, as they have a great team.

“It will be great to see Cammy Smith again as he is scoring a lot of goals and playing every week and doing well.

“Jamie Langfield also has a huge connection with the club and is part of the coaching staff at St Mirren.

“They are a strong side, so it will be a very tough game.

“In cup competitions if you don’t turn up on the day you won’t get the result you are after.”

As we talk in the plush Jebel Ali Beach Hotel there is a black grand piano to our left and a stunning view to the right of golden sands and yachts moored in the marina.

Players from other teams such as Lokomotiv Tashkent of Uzbekistan, who they face in a friendly tomorrow, are also milling around the five-star hotel.

It is a world away from the bitter cold of Scotland that Considine has been used to training in during the winter.

For the last two years the Premiership shutdown has offered the opportunity to jet out to the United Arab Emirates.

Considine reckons working out here in 25-degree heat at superb facilities will lay the groundwork for the bid for glory in the second half of the campaign.

He said: “Being out in Dubai for a week will get us up to speed for the rest of the season.

“Dubai has probably come at the right time because I felt in the last five months we have not been as consistent as in previous campaigns.

“That is potentially down to the new faces coming in and getting that gel together.

“Maybe the boys are also not reaching the heights of recent years.

“However, I felt that December was better because we produced some results which were more like us.

“Coming away to a place like Dubai is proper team bonding in fantastic facilities.

“The boys have enjoyed training, which has been tough, and we are looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”

Manchester City midfielder Chidi Nwakali flew out to meet up with the Dons in Dubai and has agreed a loan deal until the end of the season.

That will officially be completed when a work permit is granted for the Nigerian international squad player.

The Dons are hopeful that will be pushed through while out in the Middle East.

Considine said: “Chidi is definitely not shy and has been a good addition to the squad.

“He has only been with us a couple of days but looks a really good player.”