BY DARREN JOHNSTONE in La Manga – Capital City Press
Striker Dominique Malonga insists Hibs will have no excuses to fall back on should they fail to be crowned Championship winners this season.
The Leith outfit are preparing for another campaign in the second tier after they lost out on the title to city rivals Hearts last term before being beaten at the play-off semi-final stage by Rangers.
The need to get back to the top-flight is as important off the field as it is on it, with clubs competing in the Championship being forced to absorb an estimated £1 million drop in revenue.
Rangers are set to be Hibs’ main rivals for the title but Congo internationalist Malonga insists the Easter Road club have all the resources they need to upstage their Glasgow counterparts.
Malonga, speaking from the club’s pre-season camp in La Manga, said: “We have good talent, we have good players, good staff, a good coach and good fans. For me this year, if we don’t go up it’s bad.
“We have everything to do well and we have no excuses.
“This year we have no excuses, this year we want to be number one, that’s it.
“Now we have experience and we know exactly what the Championship is all about.
“Everybody knows that when we go on the pitch that it’s to win.
“I would love to give the fans the Championship trophy this season and maybe even get to a final of a cup.
“When we finished the play-off game against Rangers, I saw the crowd and the fans applaud us – I think it was special.
“We lost the tie on aggregate but the fans recognised that we did well.
“I think the fans know we have a good team and deserve more. I feel respect from them and it was a good feeling.”
Malonga hopes to help the team realise their target by surpassing the 16 goals that he netted in his maiden campaign in Scotland.
The 26-year-old was a latecomer to the squad having joined last September after Farid El Alagui sustained a serious Achilles injury.
Malonga was then absent for six-weeks at the turn of the year due to African Cup of Nations commitments.
The forward, who is relishing the battle for places following the arrival of James Keatings, added: “It’s good for us that we have a lot of good players, it’s good competition but it’s friendly.
“I think I can score a lot more goals. Do I have a target? Last year I scored 16 but hopefully I can score more – maybe 20. I missed a few games but 20 would be good.
“We’ll see what happens but more important is the team and that we try to win every game.”