“We are often better under pressure”
Zerofivers interview Karim Onisiwo
Five of his seven Bundesliga goals for the Austrian have come this season. It has been the first time since his arrival in Mainz, that the striker has been injury-free for a period of time and has been used as a central striker by Sandro Schwarz. In an interview, he spoke about his chances against Dortmund, his preferred playing style and the aim of the team for their game on Saturday against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Karim, so far this season you have scored five goals. How frustrated were you that you were unable to add another goal to your tally against Dortmund?
Onisiwo: “It annoyed me a lot. My first chance that hit the post just before half-time was difficult. It was more of a back-heel because Mateta was marked. He took the man away and I instinctively tried to put it in. The chance after half-time annoyed me more because I aimed the ball into the bottom corner but it hit the post and didn’t rebound into the net.”
You seem to be more and more dangerous in front of goal. Where has this development come from? For you is it better to play counter-attacking or possession football against lesser opponents?
Onisiwo: “Mainly because we have started playing in a 4-4-2 diamond formation and I am playing as one of the two strikers, which means I am closer to the goal. I only have one or two players between me and the goal. It is easier to score from there, compared to being on the right or left wing. If you get good service, you should score. I am and always have been a player who likes playing on the counter. I am good at finding space and keeping possession but my strongest asset is coming deep and collecting the ball, using my strength and keeping the ball.”
What is different now compared to the past couple of years? Have you changed anything in particular?
Onisiwo: “The most important thing is that you have the coach’s confidence behind you and that he lets you start games. Then you will want to take your chances. Of course, after I transferred to Mainz, I was injured for a while and wasn’t able to get any rhythm. For the first time this season, it has been different. I feel good, I’m fit and feel like part of the team. Before, I felt like part of the team but I was on the bench a lot. Starting games is very important for me as it gives you confidence. I am definitely more stable now too. The longer you are on the pitch, the more your confidence grows.”
On Saturday, you play against Fortuna Düsseldorf. The head coach spoke about it being a deciding week. What does that mean for you?
Onisiwo: “Yes, we have spoken about the fact that we can fix our Bundesliga status for next season. It is of course a major incentive for all of us. I think that we will have enough motivation already from our fans. Düsseldorf have shown already that they can play good football. We will be under pressure, but that pushes us even more. We have often been better when under pressure.”
The club decided to extend your contract until 2020. Will there be further talks in the summer?
Onisiwo: “I am happy that the club decided to extend my contract. I take it as a compliment. Now it looks like things are clear for now. I think we will have a sit down and see how things are. I feel good here and everything is fitting in well. It would be nice to stay here for longer, but that’s something that has to be talked about.”