Ibai Gómez “We Have The Duty To Advance”
This weekend’s Copa del Rey match against Sestao River will be a special occasion for Ibai Gómez. The winger spent the 2009/2010 with Sestao before joining Athletic and remembers his time at the club fondly. After starting the previous Cup fixture, Gómez is expected to be in the lineup once again and make his return to Las Llanas.
“They gave me the opportunity to take the first step as a professional player,” Gómez said at the beginning of Tuesday’s press conference. “I carry Sestao in my heart and I’m very fond of the club. There will be a spectacular environment and we are also very excited.” Although Sestao are currently in Spain’s fourth division, Gómez says Athletic can’t take this game lightly.
“These are deceptive matches and you can’t think that you will win easily. Sestao have the dream of fighting on their ground and advancing. We have to face the game with total respect, enthusiasm, and eagerness. It’s going to be complicated, but there’s no doubt that Athletic is the favorite and we have the duty to advance.”
Reflecting on the first half of the season, Gómez believes that Athletic have done well. The Lions currently sit 8th in the La Liga table and are very much in the battle for Europe.
“The first half has been quite good. We all want more but I would say it’s been good. We aren’t satisfied with where we are and we’re working to improve in the areas that we have struggled. We’re very excited for the second half with the aim of finish as high as possible.”
On a personal note, Gómez admits that he isn’t satisfied with his limited minutes so far this season. “I can’t be happy with how much I’ve been playing, but I’m sure that if I give 200 percent I will have more chances,” he said confidently. “There is a lot of competition and very good players, but my conscience is calm. For those of us who have played less this can be an opportunity.”
When asked if Athletic have set the goal of qualifying for Europe Gómez echoed the same answer that others have given this year. “It’s not good to focus on the long term. Without using the objective word of having a goal, we hope to return to Europe. The players, the fans, the club…we all want to play in Europe and we believe we can achieve it.”
On the topic of competing for Europe, Gómez says that it won’t be easy because there are so many other strong teams in the league. Athletic must continue to improve, especially in attack, but finding the right balance and rhythm will make the biggest difference.
“No one wins games easily in the Primera. Each match is hard because there is a lot of competitiveness and it’s becoming more even. No one wins easily so we must value what we have accomplished with the clear objective of maintaining the good we have had defensively, where we have spectacular numbers, and improving offensively and scoring more goals. Maintaining balance is the key. It’s difficult, but we can do it.”
Ibai Gómez scored his first goal of the season in the previous Cup match against Intercity and will be hoping for more on Saturday. The 30-year-old has played well when given the opportunity this season and continuing to do so would go a long way in earning more regular playing time. Above all else, Athletic are determined to make a deep run in the Copa del Rey this season and believe that they can challenge for their 25th title.