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Roca praises Semboi Haokip show, Popovic rues not being able to win


The Stallions halted thye Blues' five game winning run.

Bengaluru FC were held to a 1 – 1 draw by FC Pune City in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday. After falling behind to Sarthak Golui’s first-half strike, the Blues responded through Miku to earn their first draw of the season. Addressing the media after the result was Bengaluru’s head coach Albert Roca and the Spaniard acknowledged the performance of the Stallions on the night.

“Pune has shown that if you give them a little space, they have very good players like Marcelinho, (Emiliano) Alfaro and even Marko (Stankovic), who can break the lines with one pass,” Roca remarked. “Today it was even more difficult because they were leading from the beginning. They (Pune) were lucky I think in their goal, but it made life more difficult for my team. Because they were much more organised in defence. It was difficult for us to find the right solutions.”

Regarding his team’s response, he said, “In the second half, we had to push and not make mistakes. It was difficult for the defence because sometimes it was two against two. But we took the risk and we finally equalised. I think it’s fairer than to lose.”

Semboi Haokip came off the bench and assisted Miku for the equaliser before setting the Venezuelan up again late on only for him to fluff his lines. Roca underlined his contribution while lauding the 24-year-old. “Yes, I am happy with Semboi’s performance,” he stated. “When the coaches try to change something, we have to depend on these players to be motivated. Semboi had scored in the AFC Cup, so I supposed he would go there with a good mentality. So, it’s true that he did a good job and I am happy for him.”

The Spaniard further added, “He is a young guy, but he always tries and will get more experience. We had not found the solutions in the players that were on the pitch until the moment he came in (and made the difference).”

Bengaluru also had a strong shout for penalty turned down when Baljit Sahni appeared to handle Sunil Chhetri’s cross, and Roca gave his views on that. “Sometimes, the refereeing may seem hard on us,” the 55-year-old said. “What I want is for them to be fair and to do a good job. It would be crucial to not make a mistake in the playoffs. But, it is more important for us to not make mistakes.”

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Addressing the media at the post-match press conference was Pune’s head coach Ranko Popovic and although there were a few decisions that might have incorrectly gone against his team, he was quick to jump to the referees’ defence. “This is one of the most talented Indian referee,” the Serbian stated. “I know he tried to keep the balance between the two teams. We tried from our side to help him because he is still young and is one of the most promising for Indian football. Tonight, I was not satisfied with some of his decisions, but I respect the referees, and I know he will learn and be a good referee in future.”

Asked whether the result was a point gained or two points dropped, Popovic replied, “I think we were closer to the win and we deserved to win the game. We were organised, they did not have any big chances before the goal and we had some situations which could have easily gone in our favour.”

He also added, “If we take the big part of the game, I think we were closer to winning it and this was necessary for us to make history. But we are going on a good way and I hope we will very soon do what everyone is expecting from us.”

Even though the 50-year-old was disappointed after failing to seal qualification, he maintained that his team would get the job done soon. “We lost one chance today (to make the playoffs),” Popovic remarked. “Had we won today, we would have practically been in the semi-finals. But, this is good for football, and also for us. We have to challenge and we have a couple of days before the game, and like all the games, we will try to get three points from that.”


Published: Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:57 AM IST


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