Onisiwo: “It’s developing week by week”
The Mainz striker on their start to the season, their next game in Stuttgart and playing alongside strike partner Jonny Burkardt
Karim Onisiwo has played a decisive role in Mainz’s strong start to the season, with nine goal involvements to his name after 11 games in all competitions. After missing the first two games of the season due to Coronavirus, the 29-year-old became a regular in the following weeks, playing in every game, and repaid the trust of the coaching staff by performing well: “We are far from finished. This season you have seen what this team is capable of. We just have to keep going and try to get as many points as possible in the remaining five games so that we have a nice basis to go for the second half of the season. Then maybe we can set our aims accordingly,” said Onisiwo ahead of the away fixture against VfB Stuttgart on Friday evening (20:30 CET).
In their home match against 1. FC Köln, the Zerofivers had to make do with a point, and didn’t manage for the full 90 minutes to play as they have shown they can. The desire to challenge for the ball and to win the game seemed to be missing at times against Köln, said Onisiwo. “That meant that they won a lot of second balls and a lot of challenges, and we weren’t able to dictate play. We can live with the 1-1 draw because unfortunately, we weren’t able to play in the same way as we have been in previous fixtures. Despite the performance, we won a point at home, and that shows our development,” explained the attacker.
Onisiwo shines as creator
On Friday evening, they will want to show a different side to them in Stuttgart, according to the player born in Vienna, who is expecting “a hungry, tenacious opposition who will try to make life difficult for us in their own stadium.” For FSV, it’s about building on performances before the Köln game against a side currently sitting 16th in the table. They want to be greedy, awake from the off and willing to be physical. “Doing what Mainz are good at,” explained the Mainz striker, who has provided the second most assists in the Bundesliga this season after Thomas Müller.
I do wish I had more goals than assists, but I don’t let it get to me
The 29-year-old has notched six assists and a goal in his ten Bundesliga appearances this season. “I feel really good – this has been a good season for me so far. That said, I do sometimes wish that the stats were flipped around and I had more goals than assists, as strikers always want to score goals, but I don’t let it get to me. At the end of the day, an assist helps the team just as much, so I’m happy that everything is going so well for both me and the team,” explained Onisiwo, adding: “Nevertheless, I do still want to score one or two more goals.”
Onisiwo on Burkardt: “It’s developing week by week”
The team puts a lot of emphasis on defensive stability, as the Austria international explained. “When you don’t concede as many goals, you don’t need to score as many goals to win, and that’s the main focus. We set a target before the season started to concede fewer goals than we did in the last campaign. Currently we’re on a perfect path for that.” Head coach Bo Svensson made a change in terms of formation over the summer, switching to the 3-5-2 which has paid off well for his side. It has also been a good change from a striker’s point of view, “because two players up top can do more than a lone striker. We do have to try to play well together though, and that’s going very well at the moment. It’s developing week by week,” said the 29-year-old.
The strike partnership of Onisiwo and Jonny Burkardt has been effective in recent weeks. “I think it worked really well in one or two games, where we found each other and were hungry to create chances, and the ball found its way in,” said Onisiwo, noticing that he and his teammate’s partnership is functioning well. “If the goals dry up, it’s the coach who notices more than the fans. The last few games have gone well and we’re combining perfectly at the moment. I hope it carries on like this!”