Following a goalless stalemate against Kolkata giants East Bengal, Aizawl FC coach Paulo Meneses was proud of the approach displayed by side despite lacking the finishing touch.
The Aizawl tactician was disappointed to come away with just the one point and said that it was not a fair reflection of the game.
“No I think it is not a fair result. We played attacking football for 90 minutes. I just saw one team only searching for three points. They played six or seven days ago. We played two days ago and we repeated eight players. I didn’t see any fatigue nor did we try to waste time. We searched for three points and tried to score. Unfortunately, we could not score and that is football,” Meneses said at the post-match press conference as he took a swipe at the visitors’ tactics.
Meneses was critical of the officiating in the match and he felt that the referee was afraid of taking big calls against the Kolkata giants.
“I am tired talking about refereeing. I lost count of the numerous fouls and I reminded the referee many times. This is not ballet or volleyball. Football does not exist without contact. I told the referee that the biggest club in India does not need this help to gain one point. I asked them (referees) that you are afraid of the big club,” he stressed.
The Portuguese felt his side should have been awarded a spot-kick after Andrei Ionescu was taken down in the box in the second-half.
“I always like to ask the players first. It is a penalty. It was clear. Andrei got the ball and the other player didn’t but the referee was afraid to blow the whistle so congratulations to East Bengal for the one point,” Meneses said about the incident.
There was drama towards the end as East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil refused to shake Meneses’ hand after the full-time whistle and the Aizawl tactician explained why.
“It was my mistake because I started it. I was complaining about the right-back (Lalramchullova) who was trying to waste time. I told him you did not need to do resort to this against your old team and we got into an argument.
The coach (Khalid Jamil) started to complain about me and after the match, I approached him to shake hands and told him sorry for my mistake. I tried to congratulate him and give him my best,” Meneses commented.
With Aizawl now up to fifth place in the I-League 2017-18 table, the coach refused to rule out a title challenge.
“It (league) is open. They (Minerva) have played more games than us. We need to recover the points in our games, especially our home matches,” he said before signing off.
East Bengal coach Khalid Jamil refused to comment on Menses' opinion about the result being not fair. He said, "He may say what he likes but I believe in reality. In the end, it was a draw and that is what counts."
On asked if he was happy with East Bengal's performance, Jamil said, "It is 50-50. I cannot say I am happy. We tried to get the full points but we got one point so its alright."
There was a speculation among the local media that Khalid Jamil was offered a contract extension at Aizawl FC after the club's I-League winning season but he rejected it and moved to East Bengal for greener pastures.
When asked about the same, he replied, "This is past, I never think about the past. I am thinking about the next match. That chapter is over and now I am in East Bengal. When I was here I gave my 100 percent."
Apparently, Jamil did not shake hands with Aizawl manager after the match. "I said hi formally and wished him good luck for the future. I am sorry for that. It is finished now," said the Red and Golds boss.