Pune were rather unfortunate to come out with a stalemate in a match which they virtually dominated for the entire ninety minutes against Sporting clube de Goa.
On being asked on how he thought his young turks performed especially with Pune FC missing a lot of regulars, Head coach Mike Snoei had nothing but praise. He also lamented the fact that the youngsters are often criticised for not playing well, just as they are praised today.
"You can always start with the young boys but they have played the whole season. When they do well everybody is positive and I see a lot of disappointed faces when they don’t. I was happy with them today but I am happy with them the whole year. They are talented and adapt well but its not easy. We missed six seven players today. Its quite a lot. And I think they were brilliant today."
Snoei was completely satisfied with the performance in spite of the result and conceded that he still had at least seven first team players missing. He was also critical of how the Flaming Oranje had shaped up for this match.
"I see Sporting defend for 90 mins only playing long balls for counter attack. Its not a joke we missed seven players. If we see how we played today, that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I already felt that there was something in the group of players. This was the biggest effort. When its really tough and difficult then only it proves to be a real team."
The Dutchman also had special words of praise for youngster, Salam Ranjan Singh who he also credited for the win against Bangalore previously. He also did not rule out giving game time to these players even when the first team contingent returned.
"Ranjan was fantastic against Rooney in the Bangalore game we won 1-0. I try to develop them as good professional I-League footballers. That goes with ups and downs. We must find a solution for playing altogether. The problem is we can play only with 11 players and I saw today also my midfield was outstanding."
The performance of Lalrampuia Fanai was also selected for special praise and Snoei contended that he had a bright future.
"I already told my people that Puia will be a key player in one and one a half years for the national team. It gives me a lot of satisfaction today."
On being asked on what he thought the team deserved had the chances been taken, Snoei was insistent that his team should have won 3-0 and it was really unfortunate that Ralte who otherwise had a great game slipped to allow the Flaming Oranje to score on the counter. He was also very happy about the message that his team gave on the field and also gunned for a win in their next match.
"We deserved the 3-0 win. I was so happy for Ralte that he played well. I feel sorry for the boys. Specially with the fantastic volley by Anthony onto the crossbar. Also the save by the goalkeeper off Ralte’s header. I can be disappointed and frustrated but I am not. The guys give me the right message today. Even if my captian is not there, even if Riga is not there. This is what we want and in the meantime we also want to develop my youngsters. It would be fantastic if we got all three points today. Wednesday it must happen."
Snoei did rue the missed chances and said that his team must be more clinical while also saying that a youngster like Haokip should not be singled out for blame if he has an off game once in a while. Instead it should be the professionals in the team who should carry the major burden.
"You can play well but if you forget to score that is also quality. We work everyday on finishing and Haokip takes the tough chance. He is improving. What do we expect from a 18-19 years old. He cannot be always at the top level. There is more pressure on the professionals like Riga. I was impressed with how Ranjan and Puia also played."
On being asked about new signing Mirjan Pavlovic who would be brought in for James Meyer, Snoei said that it would give his team options up front.
"Meyer was not happy anymore in India. I have always said that if you are not happy you can leave. He is a good striker and he can help us. He has a good record and will be good in the Indian football scene."
However he rejected the notion of playing with two up front as he believed that would leave them vulnerable behind.
"We will not play 4-4-2, then automatically you get quick long balls. We want to show football and positioning game. You can play nice but you also have to grab the results and score goals. We need 18-20 good players. One extra striker, I think we can use that."
Snoei also said that although results were important he was also interested in playing good football.
"Today was very obvious. We had close to 70% possession of the ball. Attacking and to be creative requires a lot of energy. Defending requires nothing. I can also be a central defender in this system. I saw Douhou who was trying and trying to be creative. The playmaking system is much much more heavier than waiting for counter attacks."
While Snoei accepted that Pune FC's cup run did not go well he said that it was mainly due to refereeing howlers that cost them the game against Churchill where his boys played the best football, something which the opposition coach also told him.
"Everybody was very negative about our cup run. We played our best match against Churchill Bros. It was two horrible decisions by the referee that made us lose the game. Their coach, Mariano Dias also complimented us."
On being asked whether Douhou Pierre was given a free role in this match, Snoei said that he always wanted him to do his defensive duty as well even though a free role allows him much more freedom of expression.
"Douhou must realize that when he plays he must pick up one midfielder. On the other hand when he is free and playmaking we of course get more good balls up front. He is doing better and better. I sometimes criticize him that he must help the team."
However he concluded by saying that it was no point hiding behind the excuses of teams playing long balls and on the counter and they had to be more careful in combating that.
"We lost also against Mumbai due to long balls and conceding on the counter. We have to be careful."
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