Niko Kovac: "I told the players to lift their heads"
Every exceptional run has an end. In a match where RC Strasbourg managed to dominate AS Monaco, who had been undefeated in their last twelve games, Thierry Laurey’s men surprised the Rouge et Blanc in the final moments of the match (1-0). The unbeaten run on the part of the Red and Whites therefore ended with a narrow defeat in Alsace, at the Stade Meinau. It was the team’s first loss since mid-December that Niko Kovac analyzed in a post-match press conference.
Good evening Niko. The Monegasque unbeaten run has stopped tonight.
I told the boys it was football, and we have to accept it. We have played very well over the past two months, and we have had some great results. I’m not changing my mind, we are not armed to win the title this year. We’ll move on and we will concentrate on securing fourth place. We created two chance with a volley by Wissam and a cross from Caio Henrique in the second period, but that was not enough.
Do you think it was incidental?
Maybe you were in the locker room because that’s exactly what I told my players. Ligue 1 is a difficult league, the level is very high. Strasbourg is not an easy team to play against, and we have to hope it was only incidental. We have to get back to work, because there is a derby against Nice which is Monday in the Coupe de France. Then before the break, there will be two important matches against Lille and Saint-Étienne.
Did you expect this type of match?
Yes, but it was not easy to prepare for this match. They had two players suspended, we did not know in which system they were going to play. It is true that they delivered a good performance, with a high level of pressing. Well done to them, we have to find solutions playing against low blocks like today to improve.
Aleksandr and Kevin were off the boil tonight…
It is the law of sport. I don’t think they had any physical problems. There are only days away from their previous match. As a coach, I tried to make changes in order to change the game. Five substitutions were made, it was not easy for anyone today. You have to accept your fate. I told the players to raise their heads.
You wouldn’t put this game down as being the usual, what was the reason for that?
It was very difficult to link play in the midfield. There were few spaces available, and solutions were hard to find. This is why we tried to play in behind the Strasbourg defense. They were well organized, with five at the back. We lacked creativity, that’s true. I don’t think it was because of us. Strasbourg had a good match, you have to know how to congratulate them – they showed a great level tonight.