FC Pune City ended the league stage of the fourth edition in the Indian Super League (ISL) with 30 points from 18 matches and have qualified into the play-offs. They could only muster a point against Delhi Dynamos and could now possibly finish in the fourth position.
On being asked if he was pleased with the draw, coach Ranko Popovic said, “Of course I am very happy. The league schedule is such that by the time you get to the end, you have to so many matches coming closely. I didn’t have Diego, Gurtej and Marcelinho today. For one team this is too much. For any team it is difficult to not have three starting members. It’s not only because they play, but they provide so many options from the bench. Of course I am happy with the result, I would have been happier with a win but I think its one game where we can be happy with the one point. This is at the end of the season, so I will take it,” he said.
Pune City could face Bengaluru FC in the play-offs should they finish in the fourth position. Popovic isn’t too concerned with which team they come up against next.
“Look our dream was to be there and now if you dream to be there, now you want to have a choice about who we play when we get there! Whoever we get, we will try our best to win the game, if it is Bengaluru then it s Bengaluru. If it’s some other team, then some other team. We are there and we are proud of that.
“I congratulated my players for the amazing season and you must also not forget that we have 10 players who have not played serious football prior to the ISL. And we also have so many Under-21 players in our side. We don’t have much experience,” he mentioned.
Popovic has expressed his displeasure over the standard of refereeing in the past. On Friday evening, Matthew Conger was the match official and the former Cerezo Osaka coach was asked to share his thoughts on his performance and whether there was an improvement per say.
“I don’t want, I don’t want. For the official, you must first have a little culture and respect. You cannot just point your finger at someone who is old enough to be your father. He must know what is protest and what is a reaction. He must have a little education.
“If you want respect, you have to give respect. This jersey you wear does not allow you to be a policeman. You need to be a gentleman. He is a young guy and I hope he learns quickly. It’s just a game in the end,” he concluded.