Pune FC failed to put up a fight in the Asian Champions League play-off at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune on Wednesday as they went down 3-0.
Mike Snoei lamented that his side should have scored the first goal as Gabriel Fernandes saw his effort go wide from handshaking distance in the 19th minute.
This was a lesson in efficiency. A good example was the chance we missed with Gabriel (Fernandes) which was almost on the line and it was a fantastic chance for going 1-0 up and then you would have a different game. Not long after that, in a set-piece, (Sam) Gallagher, the central defender scored and they were 1-0 up.
“Then the whole game you know you have to try something to create a one-on-one situation, but that was very difficult. I also saw that the opponent doesn’t have the combination and shoot on goal, but they are very dangerous in set-pieces. That’s why we needed that push on the Gabriel chance. You also have to look at the efficiency during their third goal. May be it was a bit lucky with the outside of the foot, but in these matches, these goals matter,” he shared his thoughts on the game.
Ha Noi T&T coach Phan Thanh Hung mentioned of Pune FC being strong in the air but interestingly two of the goals they conceded were headers from inside the box.
“My strongest player in the air is Anas (Edathodika), our captain. I had problems with him in the air and this is in one-on-one situation and we couldn’t do anything about it. It was up to Anas but [Sam] Gallagher was stronger in the air. So that was disappointing for Anas, because the whole year he is fantastic in this and now this guy got two chances, we must now forget as he missed a big one.
“And you could see after the 0-1 that the team (Pune FC) struggled with the situation. And that’s why I say, if you score the first goal, and then maybe you get the positive push you need.”
What was interesting note was that the Red Lizards could only win two corner-kicks which never really troubled the opposition and neither were any clear-cut goal scoring opportunities created.
“We had three offensive guys- the left winger (Anthony D’Souza), the right winger (Gabriel Fernandes) and the striker (Mustapha Riga). Then we have Arata (Izumi), who is the most offensive Indian footballer and plays just behind the striker in the national team. So, we had four attacking players in the team but also it’s the quality of the players that matters.
“They had five-to-six national team players from Vietnam and may be they are stronger in agility, stronger in turning and I saw that near the bench. The difference between Anthony D’Souza and the right full-back (Quoc Long) was only muscles, a lot of muscles. Also when we choose for four offensive players with Gurjinder (Kumar) also given the freedom to go in overlap, then it’s disappointing that we don’t create enough chances; I agree to that. What can you do more in international football? If you play with more guys up front, they kill you from the first minute. And that was also disappointing for me, as we couldn’t create enough chances,” he acknowledged.
Snoei demanded more effort from his foreign contingent as he mentioned that they ought to prove their quality in such top games.
“If we look after this game, we must do much better of course. Calum (Angus) played well and especially did very well against the striker (Samson Olaley). That guy was also dangerous, we saw from the videos. Of course, my other foreigners must do much better; also with (Mustapha) Riga, also with Douhou (Pierre) and also with Arata (Izumi). So we have all these players and in these games they must show it. Don’t look at my goalkeeper (Amrinder Singh) or something, he is only 21 or 22 years old, but I think there should be more responsibility from the foreigners in these games. Riga has played these games before but this was an easy game. They were tough, especially the two guys in the middle. Physically they were very strong,” he stated.
“Meyer had three days food poisoning and also trained only once and hence we decided to keep him on the bench. You could see that even when he came on, the power was missing,” the 50-year old explained his decision to not start with James Meyer.
In their last ten competitive matches, Pune FC have only managed to register a single victory which was against United Sports Club, a team struggling with financial issues which is affecting the morale of the squad.
On being asked what needs to be done to end this rut, Snoei said, “Like before this game we were very positive and trained for the whole week. Then we got this result, but of course we must do better. We are very close to the Bengaluru team and I agree that we must turn something now. We must work very hard.”
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