Joseba Etxeberria “My Players Have Given Their Best Level”
Bilbao Athletic’s 1-0 win over Cultural Leonesa on Sunday may very be the biggest victory of the season. Along with facing one of the best teams in Segunda B, the Kumeak had to do so without a number of key players. Taking the three points at Lezama saw Bilbao Athletic move level with Cultural for 2nd in the table as the promotional playoffs draw closer.
“We’ve won against a great team who have one of the best squads at this level, if not the best,” Joseba Etxeberria told reporters after the game. “It’s always important to win and have good feelings. My players have given their best level. The team played well with the ball and without it and showed personality. We knew how to suffer in the sensitive moments and end the day with the same amount of points as Cultural.”
There was little separating the two sides at Lezama until Oier Zarraga scored the winning goal with a shot from outside the box. One isolated moment decided the result, but it took a great performance for Bilbao Athletic to be in position to secure the victory.
“The first half was very close. Perhaps we took more of the initiative with possession and passing. In the second half we started better, with two or three clear chances, and we scored when Cultural were having difficulties. It was important to be organized and support each other against such a strong opponent. From there we tried to hurt them.”
With so many players unavailable for the match Etxeberria called up a number handful from Basconia. Aitor Paredes started in defense while Jon Cabo and Álvaro Núñez both made their debuts in the second half. The Mister sees a bright future for the trio.
“The game ends on a high note, not only for the victory, but also because the team played well despite many absences. We faced this match with nine casualties and had to call players from Basconia. They are competing well with Basconia and have given a very high level today. Apart from beating Cultural, this result shows a little more about what is coming on the horizon and that things are being done well to prepare players.”
In conclusion, Etxeberria was asked about the possibility of qualifying for the promotional playoffs. The manager doesn’t want to look too far ahead but took a moment to praise his players who working hard to overcome many challenges throughout the season.
“We will see about the playoffs. The goal is to prepare the players for the first team. We are very happy to be so high in the table and for the excitement that the team is giving. The success is valued because of the setbacks the team has faced, with long-term injuries in some cases which has forced us to play some in different positions. It shows the commitment of the players. We must thank everyone for their effort.”
Bilbao Athletic now trail first placed Logroñés by just four points and will have the opportunity to make up ground in Saturday’s trip to Salamanca. Joseba Etxeberria hopes to have more players available for the match, but is expecting yet another challenging fixture away from home.