Gaizka Garitano “I Was Confident Because I Know The Players, I Know They Never Give Up”
Athletic’s trip to the Canary Islands didn’t go the way the team had expected. A red card was shown to Iago Herrerín just two minutes into the game and the Basques went down 1-0 moments later after conceding a penalty. The Lions would equalize on three separate occasions, including two minutes before the end of extra time, to send the game into a shootout. In the end, Athletic would win the shootout 4-2 to advance to the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.
“We have heart and we never give up,” manager Gaizka Garitano told reporters after the match. “I’m happy for the players. Turning the game around with one less player deserves a lot of merit. I didn’t see the team worried at any point. It was a difficult situation but the team didn’t give up. I was confident because I know the players, I know they never give up.”
Garitano went on to point out that the Cup has been challenging for ever team this season. Playing essentially the entire game with 10 men demanded incredible effort and the Mister was full of pride for the way the players competed without fear from start to finish.
“These Cup matches are difficult. The red card and penalty made it even more challenging, but we never lost faith at any time. No matter the adversity, 2-1 or 3-2, the team believed until the end. We always believed that we would advance. We have played with 10 for practically the whole game and won. I’m happy for the effort and for turning it around given the situation. The players never gave up, it’s the hallmark of this team and I like it.”
Having booked their place in the next round, Athletic will now turn their attention to Sunday’s league match against Getafe. Garitano admitted that the squad needs time to rest after such a busy schedule, but that the team is determined to win at home and secure an important three points.
“We had many tired players and some with cramps. You could tell when those in attack like Muniain and Williams lost freshness. This game is over without any injuries, although it’s true that we’ve had a lot of fatigue from playing every three days. Now is time to recover from today’s heavy effort and think about a victory at San Mamés against the Getafe which is what we need.”
Athletic must wait until Friday’s draw to find out who they will face in the quarterfinals. Seven other matches will be played over the next two days to determine which other teams will advance. Having played four straight Cup matches away from home, there is a chance that Athletic could host the next fixture at San Mamés.