Kathmandu: Coach Wim Koevermans was a happy man, terming his team as “deserving winners” of the SAFF Championship semi-final. Maldives coach Urbanyi Istavan Bela, on the other hand, said exactly the opposite.
“I am sorry, but India never deserved to win as we were the ones who were playing football. India were simply playing mind-games,” Istavan fumed.
The Hungarian was livid about a penalty, which he felt was denied to striker Ali Ashfaq by Jordanian referee Idham Mohammed. “You don’t have to get killed in order to get a penalty,” Istavan commented.
His counterpart, though, was all praise for his men who did exceedingly well to shut out Ashfaq. “I’m very proud of the boys as we showed how good we can be.
“We started defensively and showed patience. The best part was that we didn’t get bogged down under any kind of pressure. The combination worked fine for us and we deserved to win,” Koevermans said.
The Dutchman rubbed salt into the rival coach’s wounds when talking about “mind games.”
“You don’t play football that way. In the second half, we played exceptionally well. We hardly let them play. We were ones who were playing football. And frankly speaking, I don’t care what others think.
“They were dominating, but that was in their own half and far from our end, which wasn’t dangerous at all,” was how Koevermans put it.
Koevermans also lauded the efforts of Robin Singh, playing as a replacement for captain Sunil Chetri, who was out due to double booking. “It’s not easy to replace a captain and Robin certainly did a commendable job.”
The vocal Istavan, however, had to search for words while explaining the poor conduct of his players Ali Umar and Mohammed Rasheed who were red-carded for misbehaving with the referee. Asked if he wasn’t aware that his team risk disciplinary sanctions from the AFC as some of the players tried to attack All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) treasurer Dheerendra Pradhan, Istavan was on the defensive.