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FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic seeks ‘respect’ from officials

FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic is seeking ‘a little bit more respect’ from officials ahead of the Indian Super League semi-final clash against Bengaluru FC

football Updated: Mar 06, 2018 22:44 IST
FC Pune City,Ranko Popovic,Indian Super League
Ranko Popovic is aiming to take FC Pune City to the final of the Indian Super League.(ISL)

Given that FC Pune City are set to make their first appearance in the knockout phase of the Indian Super League (ISL) when they host Bengaluru FC in the first leg of their semi-final on Wednesday night, one could describe their head coach Ranko Popovic’s time in India as fairly successful. More so by Pune City’s past record in the tournament.

Having finished sixth, seventh and sixth in the past three seasons, Pune City, under the guidance of the Serbian tactician, have finally emerged from their slumber on the fourth time of reckoning.

Despite Popovic arriving at Pune City after the squad had been picked following the player draft in July, the 51-year-old managed to get the team working together.

But the tactician, known for being animated on the touchline, has seen himself being involved in a fair share of controversies at the helm of the club.

In fact, he was handed a four-match suspension and fined Rs. 5 lakh for his remarks against match officials after his side’s 2-0 win over FC Goa in Margao on December 23. Another possible touchline ban was revoked at the last moment before Pune City’s match against Mumbai City FC on February 11 in Mumbai.

On Tuesday, on the eve of one of Pune City’s most important games, Popovic chose to open up about his dealings with the officials, seeking a little more respect, given the 40 years he has spent in footballing circuits across the globe.

“I don’t want to be on the bench tomorrow so I won’t speak much on this issue. I have 40 years of experience in football and I don’t even know if the referees are even 40 years old. I’m asking for a little bit more respect about all these things,” started Popovic.

“They are human beings, they make mistakes. But if they want to be better they need to sometimes hear what we say because they can learn from it. This is an experience too. They have never played football and have never felt football the same way we have. Also, they have one other job, we don’t have a reserve job. I have only one job and I tell my boys that he cannot lose his job because of my mistake. I can lose my job because of his mistake. If they understand this, they will have a little bit more respect.”

“I try to control my emotions all the time. But I cannot understand how you can control something after you know the rules of the game. Some decisions, one is a penalty in a game and is not in another,” Popovic continued.

“Everyone in the dressing room knows how much I respect referees but I cannot hold myself back always. But even so, you have never seen five-six Pune City players surround the referee and try to push him. We respect them more than any other team.”

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 21:46 IST