Athletic Club officially began their Europa League campaign on Thursday when they drew 1-1 with Dinamo Bucuresti in Romania. The Lions struck first thanks to an early header from Aymeric Laporte, but a wonder strike from Rivaldinho in the second half brought the game to a draw. After the match, Kuko Ziganda spoke with the media and said that the goal was to win and that didn’t happen. Now the Lions know that they have to earn a victory at the San Mames.
“We always go to every game with the mentality to win. Today we could not do it and that means that something was missing. There is no need to make excuses, the draw is what it is and I think the result is just because of the goals that were scored. I can’t say it was positive or negative, it is what it was. We know that there are two games and we have to be up for it for both. We came with the mentality to win and couldn’t do it, but that will be our goal at the San Mames. It is true that the away goal is important, but the next match we have to win. We leave today as it is and are ready to seize the next opportunity.”
Ziganda went on to say that the match had two completely different halves. The Basques were in control for most of the game, but Dinamo’s second half equalizer gave them the encouragement and energy needed to fend off the Lions.
“The game was made up of two phases. We were in control in the first half and the team came out with a lot of personality and tried to dominate possession and attack. We were good until we scored the goal After the goal we had five minutes where we were hesitant, then calmed down after Raul Garcia and Aduriz had strong headers. As a result of their goal in the second half they were encouraged and the fans started to push them a lot. They were tight and dangerous, but we also had our chances and opportunities. The match, in general, on our part went well. When you play in an incredible atmosphere, the fans can influence things a lot and it is normal to have difficult moments. For being away from home I think the team has performed well and did not concede many chances.”
In closing, Ziganda said that he is very excited about fulfilling his dream of becoming the Athletic Club manager. He knows the responsibility that he now has and is ready to continue helping the team improve.
“I am happy to have coached my first game as the Athletic coach. I like the idea of the team and how they faced this game. We have things to improve. I am enjoying my new role very much and I know the responsibility of my position. It has been a very nice week for the entire coaching staff.”
Athletic’s away goal come prove vital in the second leg. That match will take place next Thursday, 3 August at the San Mames. Iñaki Williams is also expected to be back in the squad which will add a different dimension to the team. Athleticzales are excited for their first home game of the year so La Catedral is expected to be packed full to watch the Lions play.