Ziganda: I Want To Finish Well
Kuko Ziganda will not continue as manager of Athletic Club after he and President Josu Urrutia announced the decision in a press conference on Thursday. Still, the 51-year-old has two games left on the calendar and is solely focused on finishing in as strong a way as possible. On Friday he appeared before the media to give his pregame press conference and made it clear that he wants to play a great game before leaving the club. He says that he is doing well and that there will be time after the season ends to think about his future.
“I’m doing well. Even before the decision was official, I expected it. I’m calm and only thinking about tomorrow’s game. There will be time later to think about other things. The more focused I am the better the it will be for the players and the club. If I was thinking about myself right now that would be really selfish. We represent an important club and I would like to finish well, playing intense and passionate football and winning games. You always want to find motivation to win, play well, finish strong…it’s time to give the fans some good feelings. There is no new news as far as injuries. Balenziaga has still been unable to train, but Lekue has returned. Hopefully he will train well again today and will be in a position to play tomorrow. We have played some good games away from home and that is what we will try to do tomorrow.”
Looking ahead to Alavés, Ziganda made it clear that they will be a difficult opponent. The team has improved drastically since the two last met back in January where Athletic won 2-0 at the San Mamés. This is the last Basque Derby of the season and that alone is motivation enough to put in a strong performance. In closing, the manager praised the Mendizorrotza for its atmosphere and said that he is looking forward to experiencing it again on Saturday.
“We already know what to expect because we know what it means to play against Alavés. It’s a Derby. They will be a motivated opponent who will be playing a serious game. In the first leg we played at home and it was probably our best home game of the season. We have already seen how Alavés has improved and in the second half of the season they are much stronger. They play with a lot of energy and can attack fast. When they steal the ball their transition is quick, organized, and it is as if they have four strikers. They are a very solid team and Ibai Gómez is having a good year. Their stadium is a small field when you compare it to others, but their fans are great. It is nice to play in a game with this type of atmosphere and hear the music of the fans the whole game. Hopefully it motivates us.”
Athletic have been out of the European qualification race for a few weeks now while also not being in any danger of relegation. With two games left there isn’t really anything to play for at this point other than pride, but the players think that is a very big deal in itself. Saturday’s Basque Derby will be an intense game regardless of where these two teams are in the table and that means that fans should tune in. The season is almost over but the Lions are ready for another battle.