Both managers were keen to stress that this was just the first game in a long season.
An inspired second half showing saw Delhi Dynamos trounce FC Pune City 2-3 in an Indian Super League match played at the Belwadi Sports Complex in Pune on Wednesday. After the game both managers met the press in the post-match interaction.
Replying to questions about Jewel Raja Sheikh’s substitution in the 2nd minute of the game due to a freak injury, Pune boss Ranko Popovic said, “Look, it was really a first experience in my career. If this kind of thing has to happen, hope this happens in the first game only. I hope we don’t have similar situations for the rest of the season.”
He cpntinued, “We weren’t prepared for such a situation to confront us. We had to change players, that affected our formations. But, it didn’t cause us any early worry because they didn’t have any shots on goal in the first half. In the second half, we made some mistakes. We gifted them two goals, early on. The opposition were stronger than us. They deserved to win this game. It’s very difficult to make a comeback after that.”
The Serbian did not want to incur any further losses to his squad (by playing a half fit Kean Lewis) “Look Kean Lewis cannot play because he didn’t play with us for months. We must protect him to avoid any more injuries. He didn’t play 45 minutes for us in pre-season and it is very dangerous if he cames on to play for the last 45 minutes in such a difficult situation. We must protect one player like him on the bench.”
He also added that losing Raja Shaikh so early in the match affected their plans and formation. “We didn’t have another player to play in that position. We could have played [with another strategy] but we had to take off another player[Jonatan Lucca] who gave more cover to Marcos Tebar, to put in Diego Carlos in this position, but too many changes for only one player was not possible. This was a big problem for us.”
Popovic was unaware of the seriousness of the midfielder’s injury and was unable to give any updates in the post-match press conference. “I don’t know. The doctors are on it. He was warming up well. We wanted to rest him for this match, but he started and unfortunately he couldn’t play.”
The FCPC boss was happy with the effort that his boys put up late in the second half, avoiding any further injury concerns. “We tried to make a comeback. We scored two goals. That’ was a positive from our boys. They tried their best and risked everything to come back after being three goals down. But, I am happy that we didn’t pick up any more injuries.”
Delhi Dynamos coach Miguel Angel Portugal was pleased with his team’s showing in his first ever test as a coach on Indian soil “We played well. It was the first time I played here. We created many opportunities to score and I think it was possible to score more goals, but we took our chances well in the 90 minutes.”
Commenting on the opposition the Delhi tactician said, “Pune is a big team. You must apply your own tactics and philosophy against them, about how to play against your opponents. In the second half they tried hard and played well. But, we were successfull in cutting off their midfield’s supply to their forwards.”
The Spniard had words of praise for the young Mizo starlet Lallianzuala Chhangte who stole the show with a goal and an assist. “He (Chhangte) played well to score the goal. I like the football he plays. He not only plays football for enjoyment; he plays football for rotation of the ball, passes the ball to the wing and overlaps across the goal. The young players in my side are fresh and raring to go, be it Chhangte, Pritam (Kotal) or Albino (Gomes), i think they are all good players.”