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April 1, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Jalil Anibaba: ‘I’m ready and confident.’

With Sounders FC defender Djimi Traore suspended for Saturday’s game due to last week’s red card, Jalil Anibaba could be in line for his first start for Seattle. The 25-year-old newcomer came off the bench as a defensive substitute following the ejection and has been essentially the team’s third center-back in the early going.

Asked after Tuesday’s practice about Anibaba, coach Sigi Schmid said: “Jalil is an experienced player in this league. He’s had two full seasons starting in the back for Chicago as a center back and as an outside back. We’re very confident with his ability to play there. We’ve got Zach Scott, as well, as another alternative who’s played a number of games back there for us … so we’re very confident with either option.”

Here is a transcript of a group interview with Anibaba on Tuesday:

*     *     *

(Seems like tough circumstances to make your Sounders debut, but how do you feel it went?) “For sure. Obviously the most important thing was to keep points, and unfortunately we dropped some, but we’re ready to bounce back. I think we started off on a good foot with a good day of training today.”

(Has this season been hard for you, having to wait for your turn after playing every single minute of 2013?) “Oh no. I don’t think so. Preseason went well, I’ve been training well and I’m still confident. Guys have helped me a lot, and I’m comfortable.”

(How did that stoppage time goal play out?) “The play started off obviously with most of us having our back to goal. It was a bit unexpected. But like I said, we’re looking forward to this weekend and we’re ready to bounce back.”

(Was the ref talking to you?) “To some of the guys, yeah, I think so. But like I said, we still had some of our guys with their backs to the ball, and we’ve reviewed the play, and I think there are some things we could have done better. But we’re moving forward.”

(Who was the Fire’s big rival? Did you have one?) “Yeah. I mean Kansas City was one of our big rivals, but I’m here to talk about this weekend and this week. I think we’re ready and focused for Portland.”

(Was you heard about this rivalry?) “If you haven’t, you’re dead. I think we’re all geared into the task and ready.”

(Is it hard to step into a rivalry?) “No. I don’t think so. Any competitor should be ready. Like I said, I’m ready and confident. The guys are ready, and that’s what’s important.”

(What did you make of the transition to center back here after playing mostly right back for Chicago last year?) “I’m comfortable at either spot. The most important thing is having guys and a staff around you that believe in you and instill confidence in you, and like I’ve said from Day 1 since I’ve gotten here, that’s been the case.”

(What kind of things are you able to pick up from Chad Marshall and Djimi Traore?) “A lot. There’s a lot to learn from them on a daily basis, on and off the field. Like I said, they’re guys who have helped me out a lot. I’m looking forward to playing with Chad, and obviously playing with Djimi on a daily basis is great.”

| More in Sounders FC, Stop and chats

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