Florian Kamberi admits envious glances have been shot across the Capital as rivals Hearts have made a turbo-charged start to the season, but the Hibs striker insisted: “They are no better than us.
In contrast to the Jambos’ run of five straight wins and being unbeaten in their opening six games, the Easter Road side have endured a more difficult time. Now though, with back-to-back wins over Kilmarnock and Dundee under their belts, Kamberi believes he and his team-mates can now begin their push to better last season’s fourth-placed finish.
After being forced to sit out those draws with St Johnstone and Aberdeen and the loss to Livingston because of a knee problem, hitman Kamberi has returned with goals, the winner against Killie and the opener in the weekend 3-0 demolition of the Premiership’s basement side.
In all, he has scored six goals to add to the nine he notched in just 14 appearances during his loan spell in Edinburgh which saw him pen a three-year deal for Neil Lennon’s outfit, a record which, in a week when team-mate Martin Boyle has been heavily linked with a call-up by Australia, he hopes is being noticed in his Swiss homeland.
“If you are asking me if I want to play for the Swiss international team, then that would be a dream come true.
“I am now focused just on Hibs to help the team with my goals. If I get the call from the national team then that would be massive for me, but I have to keep working hard to convince them. I haven’t heard from anyone. I played for the under-21s, so they know my name, but when I am on the pitch I do not think about how someone else might think I am playing.”
Kamberi displayed his predatory skills on Tayside on 51 minutes. Having hit the bar moments earlier, he applied the deftest of touches to send Boyle’s inch-perfect past beyond Dundee goalkeeper Elliot Parish before Boyle added a second three minutes later, substitute Thomas Agyepong putting a fairer complexion on the final scoreline with an impressive third.
“It was a very good performance, especially in the second half,” said Kamberi. “The last 20 minutes of the first half we were good but the second half, from the start to the end we played very well and could have scored more.”
Adopting a 4-3-3 formation with Boyle, Daryl Horgan and Agyepong on the flanks has, according to Kamberi, brought obvious rewards, “As a striker if you have great team-mates around you it is always easier.”
With Hibs rediscovering their mojo, Kamberi argued the target was to better last season’s efforts. He said: “Our ambitions should be to be beyond the top four, not to be worse than last season. We must fight for second, third place, that must be the ambition for this club.”
However, it will be a tough fight with Rangers obviously improving rapidly under Steven Gerrard, Hearts most definitely on the up, while Aberdeen will again be expected to be in and around things in a league which Celtic, despite failing to meet their own high standards, will be expected to win once more.
Kamberi, though, was adamant none of that was a distraction to Lennon’s players, claiming they are simply focusing on themselves.
He said: “I think the Hearts team is not better than us if we compare the league.
“They are doing very well, we have to accept that, but we have to focus on ourselves to bring performances every week, not to look to other clubs.
“I think we have been doing that in the last two weeks and if we play like we did in the second half in this one, then I think we can beat every team.”
Australian internationalist Mark Milligan enjoyed his first start in a green-and-white shirt and, like Kamberi, he enjoyed what he saw, the 33-year-old saying: “It was good, it’s been a while since I’ve started and it was important for me to get rid of some of the cobwebs.
“But it was more important to win. We’re getting a bit of momentum with back-to-back wins. A game like Dundee is always going to be tough. They are fighting with their backs against the wall and it’s never nice going there and having to get a result.
“We had to concentrate on ourselves, make sure we were not complacent and realise we’d have a game on our hands. They started well, but other than give up one chance we settled, our character was good and we scored three very good goals and deserved what we got.”