BY ALAN TEMPLE, Algarve – @CCP_Sport
OFIR MARCIANO was so impressed by Scott Bain earlier this term that he found himself applauding his fellow stopper.
However, the towering Israeli has no intention of being relegated to a watching brief by his new glove rival.
The 26-year-old arrived on loan from Dundee last week and swiftly set his sights on dislodging the Easter Road number one – and Marciano will not underestimate that challenge, having been dazzled by Bain’s display at Dens Park.
The former Alloa stopper claimed man of the match as the sides played out a 1-1 draw in August making a string of sensational saves as the Dee held on for a precious point, catching the eye of Marciano and Neil Lennon in the process.
“He is a great guy and a great goalkeeper,” smiled Marciano. “When we played against Dundee in August we drew 1-1 and he was great. I was clapping him! I always applaud when the goalkeeper on the other team makes a wonderful save. I know how to appreciate good saves.
“We had so many chances to win that game but he made many good saves and we didn’t get the win. He is a good addition to the squad and the team. It’s good for the goalkeeper’s union to have a good goalie who will push us to be better.
“The way I see it is I always need to prove myself. It’s good that I have good competition – but the way I see it I always need to compete with myself. You need to show your abilities and be the best you can in every game and every training session.”
And Marciano revealed Bain is as good on the mic as he is on the pitch.
He smiled: “Scott had to get up and sing a song for his initiation into the squad. I didn’t know the song but he is a great singer – I was applauding that as well.”
Marciano’s smile belies a testing period in the career of the former FC Ashdod custodian.
He was lambasted as ‘unprofessional’ by firebrand Lennon following a forgettable showing against Rangers and has seen Bain arrive at the club with the intention of taking his jersey. A more meek character may have wilted.
Marciano, by his admission, is his own harshest critic, ensuring even the most withering assessments from his boss or supporters pale in comparison to the standards he sets for himself.
And he has resolved to relegate Bain to a place on the bench for the remainder of the campaign.
“The way I see it is I always need to prove myself,” he continued. “It’s good that I have good competition – but the way I see it I always need to compete with myself. You need to show your abilities and be the best you can in every game and every training session.
“It sounds like I am my own biggest critic. This is true. It’s the best way to make sure you give your best performance. You need to criticise yourself.
“All the world can criticise you and you need to make sure it doesn’t go in your head. But when you go to sleep at night you have to ask if you did your best. Can you do better? This is what I try to do every day, to be better.”
The nadir of an otherwise solid maiden campaign in the Scottish Premiership for Marciano came against Rangers, conceding two soft goals as Hibs slipped to a 2-1 win. His leap in the wrong direction, allowing Alfredo Morelos to score at the near post was particularly careless.
Lennon subsequently stated ‘I think he has just guessed, that’s unprofessional from him’.
Speaking about that appraisal for the first time, Marciano has conceded that he would have preferred those comments to have remained private.
“I like to keep these conversations inside the dressing room and not for the press,” he added. “But if he [Lennon] decides to say things I respect that. I have self confidence and I know when I make mistakes. I know what to do to correct them.
“As a professional I take every game seriously and stay switched on all the time.”
The first indication of who Lennon sees as his number one will come on Friday when Hibs face Willem II at the Estadio VRSA in the Algarve. The Northern Irishman has stated that the side he picks will be close to the team he envisages lining up against Hearts in the Scottish Cup on January 21.
“The derby is something that will stay with me long after I retire. I love the atmosphere. It’s amazing, especially the away games at Tynecastle, when you can really feel our fans behind you.
“Hopefully we will finish it at Tynecastle but, if not, we can take them back to Easter Road, win and then wait for the song with the fans – ‘Sunshine on Leith’ – after the match. That’s the best moment of the season.”