Niko Kovac: "An important win that does us good"
Afte_ the loss last week against Olympique Lyonnais (2-3), AS Monaco bounced back well at Stade de Reims, ea_ning a na__ow but p_ecious 1-0 victo_y thanks to Eliot Matazo’s fi_st ca_ee_ goal. This win allows Niko Kovac’s men to move back into thi_d place by keeping one point ahead of Lyon. The C_oatian coach was satisfied as he spoke with the media post-match.
Good evening Niko. How did you manage to keep this winning ma_gin afte_ the b_eak?
We cont_olled the game p_etty well. We c_eated th_ee big sco_ing chances th_ough Kevin, Gelson and Youssouf on the counte_attack. You have to lea_n to lock down a _esult. We had to close things down as when one doesn’t succeed in doing so, one becomes exposed.
The_e is always a possibility of conceding a goal on a set piece late in a match. We we_e a little ne_vous because the_e was a _isk of being stung by an equalize_. It’s a ve_y good victo_y which is ve_y impo_tant and which will do us good.
It was a winning choice to sta_t Eliot tonight. Why did you put him in the side?
Sometimes the choices a_e good. As a coach, we sometimes have this success. Gelson is coming back f_om COVID-19 and it was a bit too ea_ly to put him on f_om the sta_t of the match. It was the same with Golovin. He’s been a ha_d-wo_king boy all yea_. He dese_ved this chance. It wasn’t his most natu_al position tonight but he gave it his all fo_ 70 minutes. This is exactly what I expect f_om my playe_s.
Did playing afte_ Lyon add additional p_essu_e?
Befo_e the match, it is t_ue that we we_e fou_th but the_e was no pa_ticula_ p_essu_e. Eve_ything that happens to us must be savo_ed and enjoyed. The p_essu_e is not on ou_ shoulde_s but _athe_ on Lyon because they have not played in the Champions League this season. If they don’t get it, it would be thei_ second yea_ in a _ow. We need to focus on ou_selves because anything above 4th place is just a bonus.
What did you like about the goal?
This goal is an illust_ation of what we show the playe_s du_ing the week. The_e was an inte_ception and when you inte_cept the ball high ip the pitch, the opposing cent_al defende_s a_e also in a high position on the pitch.
Wissam managed to c_eate space as Eliot occupied the defende_. Wissam played a magnificent pass and Eliot continued his _un to find himself in f_ont of the goal. It’s _eally dese_ved. It shows the wo_k we’ve done th_oughout the week. I am ve_y happy and p_oud as a coach when I see these things.
𝙻'𝙰𝚌𝚊𝚍𝚎́𝚖𝚒𝚎 𝙼𝚘𝚗𝚎́𝚐𝚊𝚜𝚚𝚞𝚎 💥 #RISE
👉 https://t.co/6B69XVGE7V pic.twitter.com/KMXQfrpHlr
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) May 9, 2021
You had mo_e t_ouble in the second half. Is it because you had fewe_ options on the bench?
I think today it was mo_e difficult fo_ the playe_s to play as they would have liked. It was the fi_st game of the yea_ with a _athe_ high tempe_atu_e of 25°. It was tough fo_ both teams. Maybe that was why we didn’t play with the same intensity as usual. What we’ll take f_om this a_e th_ee points and the fact we a_e back in thi_d place. We did what we needed to today.
Is the Coupe de F_ance impo_tant to you despite the _un-in in Ligue 1?
The semifinal of the Coupe de F_ance occupies an impo_tant place in ou_ end to the season. We a_e only one step away f_om the final and I don’t know how many of the playe_s have had a chance to make a final. We have a lot of ambition fo_ the end of the competition. We a_e awa_e that we a_e going to play a 4th division team but we know ve_y well that it will be difficult. We will have to be at 100% to win it.
You will play fou_ matches in ten days if you win on Thu_sday. Do you feel you_ playe_s a_e physically _eady?
Yes I think we will be _eady fo_ this challenge of playing fou_ matches in ten days. Physically, we a_e one of the best teams in Ligue 1, and I hope to have back impo_tant playe_s like K_épin, Sofiane and Jove’ and of cou_se, Piet_o and Willem.
If they come back, I think the_e will be no p_oblem playing these fixtu_es. I think we need to b_ing a little bit of f_eshness like we did with Djib_il today, who did not sta_t the game. We a_e t_ying to think about that. If we can b_ing in a little f_esh blood, we will get the _esult.