Brown thanks ‘honest’ players, Costa demands improvements for semi-finals
FC Pune City secured the bragging rights in the Maharashtra Derby after a 2-1 win over Mumbai City FC in their final match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Saturday. Adil Khan gave Pune the lead in the 18th minute before Robin Singh scored the second to seal the result. Arnold Issoko's late penalty only proved to be a consolation.
At the post-match press conference, a thrilled Phil Brown provided his take on the match. The Englishman thanked his players for their honesty and work-rate since he took charge. "I think the transformation is being down to the players. I looked for an honest performance which allows mistakes. If you make mistakes in a game of football, that’s going to happen. I credit the upturn in form to the players. Today was a genuine, honest performance," he said.
"Sometimes you can ask some players to do something different from what they normally do. I have never done that. Since I arrived, I’ve asked the players to do things that they are paid to do. We’ve got a 50% win-ratio under me. We’ve now got 17 points from the last eight games, which is title-winning form. Tonight’s performance is purely down to honesty. I would like to thank the players for what they’ve done," he added.
With injuries and suspensions to some of the first team regulars, Brown decided to hand a start to some of the fringe players, who impressed on the night. Expressing his opinion about them, Brown said, "Some of the big players were out with injuries and suspensions and allowed an opportunity for Mohammed Yasir, for Nikhil Poojary, for Gurtej Singh, and they took the opportunity well. For me, Gurtej was the Hero of the Match. Since December, he hasn't played a game. I thought he was magnificent tonight."
Mumbai head coach Jorge Costa, on the other end, expressed his disappointment with the result. He said, "We came here to win the three points. We worked for this. We created a lot of opportunities. We go back home with zero points. So, I’m not happy with the result. But I have nothing to say about the players because they worked, they tried. During the 90 minutes, they were focussed on the game. They were serious. They will have tomorrow off and on Monday we will start preparing for the semi-finals.”
Looking ahead to the semi-final, Costa warned his players that a similar performance would not be sufficient against a strong FC Goa, who have been sort of their bogey team this season. "The last two games that we played against Goa, we had a score of 0-7. So of course, we need to change a lot of things if we want to play the finals," he said.
Read the Match Report here.
Note: Pune’s second goal was initially awarded to Iain Hume but was later ruled in favour of Robin Singh. The article has been edited to reflect the changes.