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Seoul Derby Build-up: Osmar - "This one is special"

The second-ever Seoul Derby will see Osmar Ibáñez line up against his former team having only just made the switch from Sangam to Mokdong. The K League legend, though, says that the game will be "special" and "fun."

Osmar Ibáñez made 344 appearances for FC Seoul, captained the club to the 2016 K League 1 title, won the FA Cup the season before. Needless to say, the 35-year-old is a club legend. However, the 35-year-old will be lining up for the opposition this Wednesday night when his former employers visit Mokdong Stadium for the Seoul Derby, a Korea Cup Round 3 clash.

How does Osmar feel when finding out he would be facing his old club so soon after he left? 

"Obviously, I was happy. I mean, for me, I like to play against big teams. If you want to be a good player, you have to be prepared and you have to be willing to play against big teams. This one is special. This one is different, obviously but I think because of the messages that I received, the attention, it feels different than playing against a big team, you know?  There's not much history in this game, we haven't played many times. Actually, I think it was only one in these 10 years of Seoul E-Land history, so there is like, not history behind the game, but somehow, I think it brought a lot of attention to this game. So I don't know if the eyes will be on me or not or on the game in general, but it's going to be fun." 

It's a home game for Seoul E-Land, meaning Osmar will have to wait for a Sangam homecoming.

"Personally, I don't mind but I'm sure for the team is better to play home, always gives you a little advantage, especially when you play a bigger club, a bigger team. It's something we could use to bring a better performance and result."

His departure from FC Seoul was a surprise, as too his move to Seoul E-Land in K League 2. His current boss Kim Do-kyun even questioned what FC Seoul were thinking in letting him go. Words of encouragement, Osmar says, were very pleasing.

"Yeah, to be honest, I didn't know what his opinion was about me. And I know that my move to K2 and, and this team and E-Land made some people think that my condition is not good, that I'm getting old. You know, this kind of normal thoughts, because if you don't know what happens inside and how everything happened and how the move happened, it's normal to think 'Oh Osmar is getting old, he cannot play at a high level anymore. He has to find a better fit situation,' and having my head coach telling me that like that in the press, I appreciated it. I talked to him later and I appreciate that he defended me, making clear that it was not a conditioning problem or age or anything. It was just different, my motive for my move to Seoul E-Land." 

Having spent most of his career in the top flight, Osmar reveals that he's still getting used to K League 2.

"I think I'm still adapting. The level is different. It's lower and the tempo, the control of the tempo, for me, I see things in my head; I'm used to thinking fast, as I played in a high level and now, I see things that should happen quicker, but they don't. So, I'm getting used to it, and I'm trying to help the players in that matter, help them understand that thinking faster is better. Improve their press stats, improve their passing quality. And, regardless of tactics formation - that's something for the coach - but in terms of these small details that is for me a big difference in any game at every level so yeah, I'm still adapting."

Seoul E-Land got off to the best possible start to the new season, earning a 3-0 win away to Busan IPark. Osmar got the game's opening goal.

"The first goal was unexpected, to be honest. I think, as I said after the game, it was not just my goal. The cross was pretty good from Peter (Makrillos). We practiced set pieces, so the coaches have to mention them, obviously. I think it was a pretty good start for myself and the team."

His first home game for Seoul E-Land saw the visit of an old foe in Suwon Bluewings. Even if he isn't in the red and black of FC Seoul anymore, the win over Suwon was still sweet.

 "Yeah, a lot of people talk about that, like it would be like a mini Super Derby now but, for me, obviously, it was one of my biggest rivals for a long time. So it doesn't matter the uniform I'm wearing, but always winning against Suwon feels good. It's like, it's what I've been trying to do for so long. So, yeah, it felt good."

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Osmar says, though, that the team needs to keep on improving.

"To be honest, those two games were tough, probably against two or one of the two best teams in K2, Busan and Suwon but we agreed with the team, I mean the players and coaching staff, we agreed that our performance wasn't that good. Defensively, yes, we were compact and aggressive and everything but our performance wasn't good. We just brought the result, which was obviously pretty good for us and since then, we've been trying to improve. We've been trying to get more of the ball passing, more chances and we have played better than those two first games; somehow we cannot score. 

"And then in every game, there is one individual mistake. It was my mistake in Bucheon. I think it was the 'keepers then the defender, the last one also [on Wednesday] a little relaxation in the last minute for the defender so it's not about the performance. It comes to small, small details and individual mistakes that we pay a big price for those.  So while we know about that, we're trying to work on that and we're trying not to get too affected by the results and improve our performances because, eventually, I'm sure if you if we perform good, I'm sure the more chances will come and more goals, so I  have to keep going."

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