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Barkok: “My own worst critic”

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After featuring for just 115 minutes last year following his move to Mainz from Frankfurt, Aymen Barkok has been able to double this number in just five games in 2023 (304 minutes). It’s the result of hard work by the 24-year-old, who started three of FSV’s five matches across all competitions this calendar year. He hadn’t started any games for the side in 2022. “During a tough time like that, where the coach isn’t picking you, it’s important to believe in yourself and work to improve,” he said, having added additional fitness sessions to his workout plan with the help of a fitness coach.  

The Frankfurt native was frustrated with last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin. He had managed three shots after coming off the bench in the 71st minute, but none were on target. “I’m my own worst critic. I have to be able to put the ball on target. I’m finding myself in positions where I can get off shots, and eventually it just has to go in,” said Barkok, who has scored four goals in 83 Bundesliga games (all for Eintracht Frankfurt). According to the Morocco international, it will be important for the team and himself to win more 50/50 challenges in the upcoming weeks. By doing so, they will be able to deliver more consistent performances and pick up the points needed to distance themselves from the relegation zone. Neither Barkok nor the team are satisfied with their current return of just four points from their four Bundesliga matches so far this year.

Focus on what happens on the pitch

“We conceded two late goals against both BVB and Union, which was very frustrating. We should have two points more than we currently do, and we would have deserved them as well. We’re not happy with our current return, which is why we need to get all three points in Augsburg this weekend. We showed against Bochum how we’re capable of performing at home. We need to play our game and enjoy our football,” Barkok said. Having signed seven new players over the winter break, Augsburg have “a solid team,” Barkok commented, adding “We go into every game intending to win it and to give our fans something to celebrate.” With the Carnival matchday coming up at home this weekend, FSV will be counting on the support from the fans to propel them to their third victory on home soil this season.

Augsburg (21 points, 13th) are currently below the Zerofivers in the table (23 points, 12th). The Carnival atmosphere at the MEWA ARENA won’t be a distraction to the players, however. “Of course I know that we’ll be wearing a special-edition shirt and it’s my first time taking part in the Carnival matchday, so I definitely want to enjoy it. However, our task will once again be to focus on football. The fans in the stands will be able to celebrate the occasion and support us,” Barkok said.

Of course I know that we’ll be wearing a special-edition shirt.

Yelling in the woods

Barkok has spent the last months working hard to increase his impact on the team’s performances, with the help of a personal trainer and some unusual methods. On his days off, he heads to Heidelberg in order to work with neuro-athletic coach Sabine Kubesch to increase his focus and processing ability. Via these sessions, he was able to come into contact with actor and musical star Bernd Lambrecht, known for playing the role of Scar in the Hamburg-based production of The Lion King. Barkok has been working on his presence and body language with Lambrecht. “I’ve been wanting to focus on it for a while now. We work on things like ‘How do the fans see me and our opponents? How can I increase my mental strength and trust even more in my qualities?’ ” As an example, Barkok shows a video in which he and Lambrecht are in the woods, with him yelling in a style reminiscent of a Maori ‘haka’ dance. One practice he has taken from these sessions is to stand in front of a mirror before games and vocally motivate himself to believe in his abilities.

Paying off

Head coach Bo Svensson has commented on his incredible athleticism, with Barkok responding “Every Moroccan can run hard, it’s in my blood.” These somewhat unusual extra session are paying off and turning him into a multi-faceted player. Now, Barkok will be looking to mark his impact with his first goal for the club, as they host FC Augsburg at the MEWA ARENA this weekend. 

After featuring for just 115 minutes last year following his move to Mainz from Frankfurt, Aymen Barkok has been able to double this number in just five games in 2023 (304 minutes). It’s the result of hard work by the 24-year-old, who started three of FSV’s five matches across all competitions this calendar year. He hadn’t started any games for the side in 2022. “During a tough time like that, where the coach isn’t picking you, it’s important to believe in yourself and work to improve,” he said, having added additional fitness sessions to his workout plan with the help of a fitness coach.  

The Frankfurt native was frustrated with last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin. He had managed three shots after coming off the bench in the 71st minute, but none were on target. “I’m my own worst critic. I have to be able to put the ball on target. I’m finding myself in positions where I can get off shots, and eventually it just has to go in,” said Barkok, who has scored four goals in 83 Bundesliga games (all for Eintracht Frankfurt). According to the Morocco international, it will be important for the team and himself to win more 50/50 challenges in the upcoming weeks. By doing so, they will be able to deliver more consistent performances and pick up the points needed to distance themselves from the relegation zone. Neither Barkok nor the team are satisfied with their current return of just four points from their four Bundesliga matches so far this year.

Focus on what happens on the pitch

“We conceded two late goals against both BVB and Union, which was very frustrating. We should have two points more than we currently do, and we would have deserved them as well. We’re not happy with our current return, which is why we need to get all three points in Augsburg this weekend. We showed against Bochum how we’re capable of performing at home. We need to play our game and enjoy our football,” Barkok said. Having signed seven new players over the winter break, Augsburg have “a solid team,” Barkok commented, adding “We go into every game intending to win it and to give our fans something to celebrate.” With the Carnival matchday coming up at home this weekend, FSV will be counting on the support from the fans to propel them to their third victory on home soil this season.

Augsburg (21 points, 13th) are currently below the Zerofivers in the table (23 points, 12th). The Carnival atmosphere at the MEWA ARENA won’t be a distraction to the players, however. “Of course I know that we’ll be wearing a special-edition shirt and it’s my first time taking part in the Carnival matchday, so I definitely want to enjoy it. However, our task will once again be to focus on football. The fans in the stands will be able to celebrate the occasion and support us,” Barkok said.

Of course I know that we’ll be wearing a special-edition shirt.

Yelling in the woods

Barkok has spent the last months working hard to increase his impact on the team’s performances, with the help of a personal trainer and some unusual methods. On his days off, he heads to Heidelberg in order to work with neuro-athletic coach Sabine Kubesch to increase his focus and processing ability. Via these sessions, he was able to come into contact with actor and musical star Bernd Lambrecht, known for playing the role of Scar in the Hamburg-based production of The Lion King. Barkok has been working on his presence and body language with Lambrecht. “I’ve been wanting to focus on it for a while now. We work on things like ‘How do the fans see me and our opponents? How can I increase my mental strength and trust even more in my qualities?’ ” As an example, Barkok shows a video in which he and Lambrecht are in the woods, with him yelling in a style reminiscent of a Maori ‘haka’ dance. One practice he has taken from these sessions is to stand in front of a mirror before games and vocally motivate himself to believe in his abilities.

Paying off

Head coach Bo Svensson has commented on his incredible athleticism, with Barkok responding “Every Moroccan can run hard, it’s in my blood.” These somewhat unusual extra session are paying off and turning him into a multi-faceted player. Now, Barkok will be looking to mark his impact with his first goal for the club, as they host FC Augsburg at the MEWA ARENA this weekend. 

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