Niko Kovac: "We have our fate in our hands"
Every incredible run has an end. And this one stopped on Sunday against Olympique Lyonnais after a thrilling encounter (3-2), on a goal conceded in the last moments of the match. After nine games without defeat, including six in the league, AS Monaco have ceded ground to OL, while still retaining their position in third place. Obviously disappointed with the result, Niko Kovac spoke with the media after the match to analyze it.
Good evening Niko. Is this the biggest disappointment of the season?
We are obviously disappointed to have lost but my players did their best. I think we had the best chances. We missed that bit of luck. We had the opportunity to score a third goal, which we missed. This is football, this is life. We are still one point ahead.
Is this the end of the team’s title race?
As I said before, the initial goal was 4th place. We’ve reached it. I never spoke of watched the title race, only the podium. PSG and Lille will fight together for that.
How do you see this match?
We did not start as we hoped. I made some changes after the first quarter of an hour, moving to play five at the back and playing Cesc and Kevin closer to each other. At the start of the second half it was a bit of the same. But I told my players that they gave their all. Lyon have very good players. Today things have not worked in out our favor. This is football.
Was the foul on Caio Henrique worth a red?
I don’t want to comment on the refereeing and get into these debates. The pictures speak for themselves.
How do you explain losing despite having a man advantage?
Set pieces are always challenging and dangerous. We must avoid giving away certain types of free kicks. The third goal was the result of a small mistake. We let ourselves be sucked in and they quickly played the ball back — that can happen. We could also have scored a third goal. Life goes on. We have our fate in our hands.
Do you blame your young players for not having mastered their nerves?
It is true that this was not the case. My role as a coach is to protect them, so I’m not blaming them. They will learn from their mistakes. It’s part of their education. They are young players. They will understand that they need to do to stay calm. But we will help them because we will need them in the future.
Are you going to reassure your players this week?
That’s exactly right. We must remain calm and reassure them. We lost a match but we must remain the same in victory as in defeat. You have to go ahead and keep your head up. We have no reason to panic because we are under pressure.
Do the three goals conceded tonight change anything in considering the strength you showed previously?
These are our first goals conceded in nine matches. We will analyze the chances and the goals conceded and explain to them what went wrong and what was going well. We have no reason to change everything after a loss.