BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
OFIR MARCIANO is hopeful his impressive start to life at Hibernian will herald a recall to the Israel set-up after registering his fourth clean sheet in five appearances.
The 26-year-old was a stand-out performer in attritional conditions in Dumfries, belying whipping wind and rain to turn in a commanding display in Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate.
He made two terrific saves, both from Dale Hilson, to ensure Hibs stayed in touch with the surprise league leaders at the summit following a difficult afternoon which saw Lewis Stevenson dismissed for the visitors.
Marciano’s showing drew praise from Hibs head coach Neil Lennon, but it remains to be seen whether he has done enough to catch the eye of national boss Elisha Levy ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Liechtenstein.
Regardless, Marciano is adamant he feels “blessed” to be enjoying a new lease of life in Edinburgh following a loan spell at Royal Mouscron from FC Ashdod last season that saw him make just six appearances.
“I hope I can get back into the international squad,” said the 10-times capped keeper. “I believe that if it is meant to happen, then it will happen for me.
“Hibs are a big club and I know people are watching me so I just want to keep doing my best. it’s good for me to come here because I know people all over the world know about Hibs and it is a great platform.
“I didn’t play much last season so just to be starting every week is great. Not playing means I appreciate it the chance I have been given here.
“Every training session, every game, I am thankful for the opportunity. I can play and feel blessed for that. Football players want to play but [last season] was something I had to accept. I am sure that experience has made me stronger.
“I know how to handle the situation now. I’ve got more confidence and more experience, so it has helped me. I am doing my best to be better every day and I am working hard. It’s a short career and you have to use every day.
“It wasn’t easy on Saturday and it was a struggle, but as a footballer you have to adapt to any conditions and get on with it. It’s not easy to play in weather like that, but we did our best.”
Marciano, who has been anything but rocky since his arrival, made a vital save after just 90 seconds against Queens, racing from his goalmouth to smother a Hilson shot following a threaded Stephen Dobbie pass.
Hibs’ response was swift and should have heralded the opener, with David Gray finding Jason Cummings with a sumptuous cross, only for the Scotland under-21 striker to head into the arms of Lee Robinson.
It was deja vu for the wasteful youngster when a John McGinn corner kick fell to Cummings a mere three yards from goal. However, he could not sort his feet out to unleash a meaningful shot.
Hibs’ momentum was quelled somewhat when Stevenson was dismissed after 55 minutes, receiving a second yellow card for hauling down Hilson, having been cautioned before the interval for crashing through ex-Hearts man Jamie Hamill.
And the last word was afforded to Marciano with a splendid save to tip a Hilson shot from eight yards wide of the post.
“This is my job – that’s why Hibs brought me here,” he smiled. “As a keeper, I would expect to have to make a few important saves during the game and that gives me confidence. I want to get better and improve.”
While Hibs can be relatively satisfied by a hard-fought point, it is Queens who remain at the summit of the Championship this morning, with their early charge showing no sign of waning.
“I’m happy with the way it has gone for me at Hibs so far but we know we should be getting three points every game,” added Marciano. “That is our target and we know we can improve.”