HAMILTON Accies striker Mickael Antoine-Curier will be out for revenge on Dundee at Dens Park this afternoon.
A win for the second-placed Lanarkshire club would see them leapfrog John Brown’s men and assume pole position in the Championship – and the 30-year-old is looking for payback. He feels he has been wronged by Dundee on three separate occasions and views today’s encounter as the perfect opportunity to teach them a lesson.
Then manager Alex Rae signed the Guadaloupe target man on a three-year deal from Hibs in 2008 but, once Jocky Scott replaced Rae later that year, Antoine-Curier’s face did not fit and he was loaned out to Hamilton. He returned to Dens Park in 2010 but he was one of nine members of the first-team squad made redundant after Dundee slid into administration in October, a fate made worse as he was recovering from a serious knee surgery at the time.
In spite of that, he was willing to return to Tayside after an unhappy spell with FC Atyrau in Kazakhstan last summer, only to discover that no-one at Dens would return his calls.
“My agent offered me to Dundee when I came back to Scotland and they didn’t want me so Saturday is a good chance for me to show them that they missed out,” said the 30-year-old. “There are three clubs which are close to my heart – Hibernian, Dundee and Hamilton. I never denied that.
“But Dundee didn’t even call me back, give my agent an answer or anything like that. When Alex Neil knew I was available, though, he didn’t waste any time. I’m grateful to Hamilton for giving me the chance to come back and I’m trying to repay them as much as I can.
“This a big game. What can I say? Dundee are my old club. They’re top of the league and we’re second, challenging them.
“If we win we’re top so that’s the main thing. My motivation is to be top of the league and win the title with Hamilton. I was with Dundee but that was in the past. Now it’s 2014 and I’m wearing red, not blue.
“Maybe it would add to my motivation if Jocky Scott was still there. He told me I wasn’t part of his plans. He said I was going to a club who were going down anyway and I said to him that we wouldn’t.
“I kept my word and finished as Accies’ top scorer. I thank God for that. I wish it hadn’t happened like that but it did. I had to look after myself.”
Antoine-Curier admits that Accies’ youngsters have exceeded his expectations this season, claiming that he had not expected them to be contenders for automatic promotion. He reckoned that would prove to be a step too far for Alex Neil’s promising young side but now he believes that they can go all the way.
“We’ve certainly proved to people that we’re contenders to go up,” he said. “When I signed no-one was talking about being top of the league. It was all about finishing in a play-off spot but things change and we’ll take it with both hands. We’re looking forward to every game. The squad is good enough, I think, to win the league.
“We’re mature enough to get through the games. It’s not just about winning this weekend but about going on a good run after that. There are a lot of young players in the squad but they are very talented, regardless of what position they’re in. Some of them have become experienced, playing 40, 50 or even 100 games. You can’t just look at them as kids – you’re looking at professional players. When a player passes 50 games you can’t regard him as a kid anymore. You have to see him as a man.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old when you’re on the park. People don’t look at that. It’s about what you can offer to the club.”
Dundee’s top goalscorer Peter MacDonald is looking forward to returning to action after hurting his foot in the recent league match against Raith, and also a potential link-up with new Dens signing Christian Nade.
“There was severe bruising on the foot after I got a kick against Raith Rovers. It happened ten minutes before half-time and it was agony. I couldn’t take my boot off so just played on with it. I said at the time that I had thought I had broken my foot because of the level of pain,” MacDonald said of the injury.
“It was nightmare and after the game I couldn’t walk. Even now it is still a bit tender when I stand on it but it’s not too bad.
“The Hamilton match will test us but I am sure the boys will be up for it. This is a massive game. The gaffer often asks if we are able to answer questions posed of us. If we can go out and play anywhere near the standard we managed at New Douglas Park that day then I’m sure we can get the three points.”
On the arrival of Nade, he added: “Christian is going to be a big asset for us. He is a strong boy who holds the ball well, as well as having an eye for goal.”