Niko Kovac: “I want to thank everyone for this wonderful season”
There are sometimes 0-0 draws that can make you happy — at the end of the day, it only took one point for AS Monaco, playing on the final day of the Ligue 1 season, to qualify for next year’s Champions League playoffs. Despite a draw against Lens, the Niko Kovac’s Rouge et Blanc had the joy of watching the last minutes of OGC Nice’s win in Lyon (3-2) together, and were finally able to exult in their achievement. The Monegasque manger has guided a young and talented Monegasque team to an exceptional second half of the season, clinching a place in the Champions League playoffs. It was therefore with the sense of a job well done in bringing AS Monaco back to Europe, that he spoke at the post-match press conference.
Good evening Niko. It’s settled, you are in the Champions League playoffs…
We are, indeed! We are all very happy. I am very proud of my players because we have had an incredible season. We played a Coupe de France final against PSG and we finished third in Ligue 1. Nobody expected that from AS Monaco at the start of the season. But it’s well deserved from my perspective. Even today we had a superb performance against a great team from RC Lens, whom I congratulate on their season. You will be able to see on social media that we celebrated wholeheartedly.
Can you tell us more about the absence of Stevan Jovetić
Yesterday he came to me in training to tell me that he didn’t feel 100% able to play this game. He was feeling some pain and didn’t want to take any chances. It was the same for Sofiane, we decided not to play players who were not fully fit.
Were you afraid the match would get out of your control?
I agree, in the first half we totally had the match under control. We notably had a chance for Kevin Volland, who was denied by a great save. We could have controlled this match better if we had scored. In the second half we lost control of the match a bit, Lens were better. I had the news in the second half of Lyon’s result so I passed it on to my players telling them to stay focused and not to concede a goal.
How will the offseason look and the transfer window in particular?
It’s the end of the season, so we’re going to try to recover for the time being. We will see the opportunities on the transfer market to strengthen our squad and prepare to compete in the Champions League playoffs. But I have full confidence in Paul Mitchell’s work. Even if I don’t think this is the time to talk about it; we first of all want to savor the end of the season (smiles).
Did you expect to qualify for the Champions League at the start of the season?
At the start of the season, I remember that we wanted to play in Europe again, that was our goal. I also said that it would takes us six months to really reach top speed. After Christmas, we reached the level we expected. It’s been a collective effort and I want to congratulate everyone, because it is the fruit of the work of the staff, the medical department, the stewards … everyone! Thank you everyone, thank you for this wonderful job, and now let’s rest so we can come back stronger next season.
What are you going to do on your vacation?
First of all, I’m going to spend time with my family, because it’s been a while since I saw them, especially my wife and my daughter. Then I’ll go to Croatia, because it’s the same landscapes, the same beaches as in the south of France. We are going to savor time with family, with loved ones, and certainly drink some French wine, because I love wine (smiles).