Reactions 27 September 2020, 18:46

Niko Kovac: "A unifying victory"

Niko Kovac: "A unifying victory"
Read the reaction of Niko Kovac, a happy coach at the end of a win acquired in difficult circumstances but one that displayed enormous solidarity, against RC Strasbourg (3-2).

After two win against Metz and Nantes, AS Monaco have now won their third match of the league season by beating RC Strasbourg (3-2). Reduced to nine men 25 minutes from the end of the match, Niko Kovac’s players showed solidarity to keep a one goal lead and take the three points to move up the table.

Niko, your players were heroic this afternoon…

It is true that they were heroic. We finished brilliantly and those who came on did their part by showing character and giving all they had. As you say in French, I think we can say “Chapeau” to them!

Does a coach enjoy winning the game in such a scenario?

No, this is not the best scenario, because in the next match we will be missing two players. We made some small errors that cost us two goals and saw us given two red cards, but we are still in a learning phase, which is normal. I remain positive because we played well. We will do everything to correct our mistakes and continue to improve.

Can we speak of a unifying victory?

Of course it’s a unifying victory, that’s what I told the players! Before, during the match against Rennes, we had given all we had. It’s not easy to play against us. It’s true that I’d rather score more to be more relaxed, but the players realize that when they work hard and train hard during the week, they can perform well at the weekend.

Today you gave Ligue 1 debuts to two youngsters, Eliot Matazo and Chrislain Matsima, in a difficult situation.

The bench was very young, the oldest player was Gelson Martins, who is only 25 years! But if all this youth is there, it is not by chance, it is because these players have quality. It’s true that we were in a difficult situation, I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that as a player or a coach. I took a great opportunity to throw them in at the deep end, throw them in the sea to see if they could swim and they did it really well. I am proud of them and their performance!

It was scenario that became difficult, when you thought you had the game in hand…

We try to make fewer and fewer mistakes over time, but like I said before, this is part of the learning phase of all these youth. If a young player can’t make a mistake, who can? Above all, I remember that we played four Academy players (Badiashile, Biancone, Matazo, Matsima) this afternoon and that this is a part of our strategy and our objectives.

You said before playing Rennes that Wissam Ben Yedder was going to score. Here he scored again — it seems his season is underway!

Wissam is a world-class goalscorer. In the area, he’s fantastic! Before the game in Rennes, he was very close to scoring as he had already hit the bar and the post. We knew it was going to turn around. I’m happy for him today with his brace, but also for Kevin Volland who provided two assists, and Stevan Jovetic who made a big impession. This is important, it shows our strategy to give him more support, so that the opponent does not focus only on him. Congratulations to all my team.

Can you tell us more about Stevan Jovetic?

He is a player with a lot of qualities. With the ball, he’s great. He has his own way of playing and his touch on the ball is extraordinary, especially when you have a certain pressure from the opponent because he does us a lot of good. He turned in a good performance, you have to be able to find the balance between attack and defense and he defended really well today too, I’m happy for him.

Rise. Risk. Repeat.