Popovic sees progress in FC Tokyo's performance despite Super Cup loss

Both Popovic and Reysol manager Nelsinho regretted their team's wasted opportunities in Saturday's Super Cup as they looked ahead to their upcoming Asian Champions League fixtures
New FC Tokyo manager Ranko Popovic thought that his side did well in Saturday's Japanese Super Cup 2-1 loss to Kashiwa Reysol in spite of the result.

The Emperor's Cup winners could not recover after Reysol's two first-half strikes, but managed to cut the deficit in half with Aria Jasuru Hasegawa's header and pressured the J-League champions until the final whistle.

"I think it was a good game; not a good result for us, but this was our first game after pre-season preparations and we did not do bad at all," Popovic said after the match.

"We moved the ball around well, but we could not finish as we wanted."

After pressuring Reysol for the first 20 minutes, Tokyo fell behind after Jorge Wagner scored on a mid-range bullet against the run of play.

"We were not very lucky," the former Zelvia Machida tactician reflected. "They scored with their first and third shot. This is football, it happens."

But he was less eager to discuss a controversial penalty call late in the first half that lead to Reysol's second goal on a Leandro Domingues penalty kick.

"[Reysol's Hideaki] Kitajima fell down in style, huh?" Popovic laughed. "Well, we have to forget about that.

"It's going to be a long season; we need to learn from our mistakes, and while producing football that entertains the fans, also be more focused on the result."

Reysol manager Nelsinho, who was able to celebrate another trophy despite unsteady play from his team, was far less jovial.

"Both teams had some problems finding their rhythm," last season's Manager of the Year said in his press conference. "We felt a bit of pressure [as champions], but after Wagner's goal we relaxed.

"After we recovered the ball, we often wasted it with bad passing. It took us a while to stabilise our game, but in the second half we were much better."

Before the teams kick off the 2012 J-League season next weekend, both will travel midweek to face their first Asian Champions League (ACL) opponents.

"We're looking forward to the ACL […] which is very important," said Nelsinho, whose club will face Thailand's Buriram United on Wednesday. "We're entering this tournament with the idea of making it more popular [in Japan]."

Popovic laughed again: "Now a long trip to Australia [at Brisbane Roar] awaits us. What is it, 13 hours?. This week we have a really hard schedule."

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