The month of January concluded in the best possible way, with a fifth straight win coming against Nantes (2-1). Dominant for nearly the entire match, the Rouge et Blanc did have to undergo some nervy moments near the end of the match after Renaud Emond had pulled one back for the hosts (84′). Niko Kovac was nevertheless satisfied with this latest win, saying as much in the post-match press conference.
Good evening Niko. Is the podium the next step for you?
Believe me or not, as I said before, we want to stay on course in order to finish in the top six. The goal is to widen the gap with the sixth and seventh-placed sides. If we succeed in doing so, we will logically get closer to the top of the table. Yes, we are close to the top three but we are looking behind us, rather than at the podium. Every match is difficult in Ligue 1, we’ll see where we are come the end of the season.
You showed two sides of your game tonight…
The first 75 minutes were very good, before the red card. We had possession of the ball, we played our style of football. We were very skilled with the ball, we created a lot of chances. I’m not happy with the last 15 minutes, as we were a little nervous. A match lasts 90 minutes, we must not let up in terms of our concentration. With hindsight, this goal ought to allow us to wake up, to become aware of things on which we can improve. It’s a good thing to have won tonight. We will continue to work on this.
Are you satisfied with the defensive display by your team?
Yes, that’s one thing I will take away from tonight. We improved on the defensive side of things. I’m not just thinking of the four defenders but of all eleven players, the entire team. Our attackers did a good job tonight, preventing the opponents from hitting us on the counter. Wissam and Kevin were important, they sacrificed themselves for the team. I would say that it things are getting better and better, some strong relationships have been created. Players learn from certain situations. There were some good decisions being made during some stretches of play. We are on the right path. We should have kept a clean sheet, we have to work on that.
Guillermo Maripán has had an impressive defensive and offensive impact..
He’s in great shape. He is very aggressive in the opposing penalty area, he is hungry for the ball. He tries to find the goal every time. I am satisfied with his offensive work but also how he has played defensively. He is able to organize the defense, especially when attacking. He helps the team a lot, especially Benoît who is playing in central defence alongside him. I hope he will continue like this, I’m not surprised. It bodes well for the future.
What did you think of Krépin Diatta‘s performance?
He is a player full of qualities, he is good with the ball, on the break, with his dribbling. He’s a good transfer for us.
Wissam Ben Yedder didn’t score tonight. Are you happy with his performance?
He did a remarkable job with Kevin on the defensive side of things. He created two good chances tonight. I will only remember that. I am satisfied with his performance. He’s our captain, we’re counting on him. I know his qualities, he is our leader. We must continue to play in the same way.