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Mehdi Nafti: "I'm very excited to be here and bring more energy and ambition to the club: it's a fantastic challenge"

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01/11/2021 14:30

This Monday C.D. Leganés officially presented the new Pepinero manager, Mehdi Nafti, to the press. The coach shared his initial thoughts on his position ahead of his first fixture in charge, which comes this Tuesday at 21:15 (CET) against F.C. Cartagena.

Txema Indias: "It's an unusual day and one of conflicting emotions, but we should be grateful for everything Asier has done for the club and wish Nafti the best of luck as he takes the reins"

The club's sporting director, Txema Indias, opened the presentation by commemortating Garitano's contribution to the club as well as offering his welcome to Nafti: "It's an unsual day and one of conflicting emotions. We're very excited to have Mehi Nafti with us, but the whole club is sad at the moment too. We had to make the decision to not continue with a club legend, a person that took us the highest we've ever been and will be forever etched in our history, but in comparison, the situation we found ourselves in felt like a bad dream. No one would have expected us to have had to resort to this. We should be grateful for everything Asier has done in both of his stretches here as manager. But sometimes poor results mar the good work behind the scenes. It's been a heartbreaking decision and we wish him all the best in the future".

Regarding Nafti's entrance, Indias stated that "at a footballing level, he has extensive experiences in numerous leagues, having played in Spain, England, Greece... At a managerial level, he took his first steps from out of the mud, just as this club did, and his latest work at Lugo demonstrates the kind of coach he is: he took on a team in a very tricky situation and got them out. We thank him for his readiness and flexibility in securing this agreement and we are completely behind him going forward". 

Mehdi Nafti: "Who could say no to a project like Leganés?"

Mehdi Nafti also gave offered his first thoughts as Pepinero manager: "It's all moved very fast, but who could say no to a project like Leganés? It was a no-brainer, it's a step up in my career as a manager, but it will be unlike any other. I know the kind of manager that was here before, and I'm excited to be inheriting the job. My happiness is a bit of a contrast to the difficult time the club has had in recent weeks at a sporting level, but I won't dwell on the past, instead on the fantastic challenge this project presents, the future and, of course, the match tomorrow. I'm here to bring all the energy, excitement and ambition I can. It's an interesting puzzle, but I'm not weighed down by it; I'm used to these complex situations. I enjoy challenges and I hope to repay all the affection and care I've received from the club and the players in such little time". 

The coach believes that "Lega have been close in a number of games. In Almería they should have been perfectly capable of taking all three points back with them. They've been missing that bit of luck, but sometimes when you hit a poor run of form, a change is needed. Short term: it's all about clearing the players' heads, then, we'll begin implementing my ideas for the team. I've watched a lot of Leganés this season and they've been competitive in all of their games. Both going forward and on the back foot, it's been a mixture of mistakes and bad luck, but even though there's things to work on we're all aware of what this side can do. I know the attacking potential of my players, behind them we'll create a defensive block and I know the type of squad I have to work with - I would really like to make the most of our attack".

"Cartagena is the objective; we need to clear the players' heads first and the best medicine is always three points"

On his own plans for the club, the manager replied that "Cartagena is the objective. Our team has great potencial, but we're falling down the table. I don't have any doubt that we'll improve as the weeks go on. It's another challenge, a ways to climb, but I like challenges and I want to get up there, and I would like to do it with Lega. I found the mood in the changing room a bit low but, if you play hard and it doesn't go your way, it follows. It means they're committed. Plus the best medicine is always three points; it's the only kind I know".

When asked about tomorrow's game, Nafti acknowledge that "Cartagena are a good team that have had their ups and downs. The last two days have been 95% about ourselves, but it's true they still pose an attacking threat and have experienced players. Bustinza and Omeruo are better and we will decide on their inclusion tomorrow based on training. We'll be bringing some reserve players too. Everyone's equal and the best will play. There's not time to change much, we've worked on the key ideas and our in-game performance has not been so bad as to have to take any drastic action".

"I know that the fans will support the players tomorrow because they are going to give everything"

Finally, he wanted to send a message to the Pepinero fans: "Any frustration and sadness or sadness is completely understandable. But I'd like for everyone to be positive, cheer on the boys because they are going to give everything. I've never liked to ask anything of the fans before showing what my worth as a manager: you judge the results, but I know the fans will support the players. I would like there to be a good environment, but you have to give before you receive. We're going to try to get the joy back as soon as possible," he concluded.