Old buddies and one new face. At the beginning of the preparations, Kassim Doumbia was the only newcomer in the purple locker room, but by the first training session, the path to the Ljudski Vrt no longer meant a path into the unknown for him.
‘My first impressions are great. I already sensed a good atmosphere and pleasant relations between players at the dinner gathering of the team. I felt like I’d have come home. I’m not fluent in Slovene, but everyone spoke with me in English and we talked a lot. I knew äuler from before, while Tavares welcomed me on behalf of the team. The initial getting to know each other is done; now, let’s get to work’, says the 27-year-old Malian with a Belgian passport.
He had already set the objective of his purple mission before his arrival.
‘Help the club to the title of the champion. The team has achieved a good starting point, but in football, you can never say in advance how the situation will unfold. The leadership in the rankings means a lot, but it will take a dedicated effort to stay at the top. My purpose is to contribute a share to NK Maribor’s new successes. I am aware, though, that the basis of everything is hard work, and that’s why I’ve begun with a full focus on all obligations since the first day.’
The winter preparations commenced almost the same way as the summer ones. The temperatures are lenient; the situation differs from the past year. For Kassim, they’re also different from the ones he was used to in the past three and a half years in Iceland.
‘It is quite different. In Iceland, it is now too cold to play football outside; thus, at the moment, everything takes place indoors there. It is a pleasant change. I’ve heard, though, that it can also be pretty cold here, but for now, the weather suits me. After the move, one usually needs some time to adapt, but from my first impressions, I’ve noticed that in a few days, everything will be okay again.’
After the first hours in the purple world, our new defender confirmed the correctness of the December decision once more.
‘I know that I’ve made a step forward in my career. Not only the weather conditions, but also the infrastructure is different. I don’t doubt that workouts will be different too. I learned about the characteristics of the team in the summer duels when I was still playing for Hafnarfjarðar. I came to the club that always fights for trophies and regularly plays in European cups. The important thing is that I get into the rhythm as soon as possible, get used to the demands, and carry out the preparations successfully. I will do my thing on the pitch, and the coach will then decide how much I can help the team.’