On Saturday, Kuko Ziganda coached his first game since the announcement was made that he won’t be continuing as the manager of Athletic when the season ends. There was optimism that the team would have a big showing in the Basque Derby against Alavés but, despite playing well, they were unable to walk away with any points. The hosts played to a 3-1 victory in what was yet another disappointing result. After the game Ziganda said that his side failed to capitalize on their chances and praised Alavés for a great second half of the season.
“We all worked hard to prepare for this game. As the first half developed the normal conclusion would have been to think that we were winning, but we were losing. We had chances to score goals, but were not able to take advantage. They did take advantage of their chances and the game was decided at 2-0. We controlled the game but they scored the goals. We must give Alavés their credit. They have had a strong second half of the season. The Mendizorrotza is a wonderful stadium and they took advantage of the atmosphere and playing in front of their fans.”
Ziganda went on to make it clear that he thought his team played well, especially in the first half. Their inability to score goals was ultimately what decided the game. He said that Athletic continued their trend of underperforming and that the scoreline didn’t tell the true story of the game on the pitch. In closing, he revealed why he didn’t name Ander Iturraspe in the team and what he said to Iker Muniain when he pulled him over to the sideline near the end of the game.
“We played very well in the first half, but it wasn’t enough. Not scoring our chances cost us the game. Their first goal was an accident and the second was just a great shot. When they went up 2-0 we started to take risks and that leaves you vulnerable. In the second half we created some more chances, but still were not able to score. We played more with our hearts than with our heads and continued the trend we have had all year. The game wasn’t what the score said, but that is the result. Iker? I told him to take the ball to the left of the field with Córdoba and to calm down. He was very worked up and passionate. I left Ander [Iturraspe] out of the list because I wanted to reward Vesga who has been training very well. After next week’s game against Espanyol I will think about my future.”
Kuko Ziganda will coach his last game for Athletic Club on Sunday when they Lions will host Espanyol at the San Mamés. The only thing left to play for at this point is pride and the players have made it clear that they want to end the season with a victory in front of their own fans. Right now the only thing that fans want is for the summer to arrive and changes to be made. What has been an extremely disappointing campaign is almost finally over.