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ISL 2017/18: NorthEast players tried to kill Marcelinho with hard tackles, claims FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic

918   //    11 Feb 2018, 22:21 IST

Ranko Popovic

Post their routine 2-0 win over Mumbai City FC at the Indian Super League 2017/18 (ISL), FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic went on a tirade against the ISL and the overall standard of refereeing. Despite being suspended and heavily fined previously for airing his honest views, the Serbian did not hesitate to express himself after the game.

During Pune's recent match against the NorthEast United FC, Popovic was once again sent to the stands for excessively arguing with the fourth official. Refusing to remain silent, the manager was extremely livid with the league and its supposed double standards.

"Why am I angry if some wrong decisions happen? You don't know how difficult it is to motivate the players after it happens. The people must know this, I am not some crazy guy who always protests," he vented out.

"We want football in India to be at the level where we can compete with Champions League. We have to play a role in Asia. Our mission is to make the league stronger, I know I speak too much." he added.

Speaking about Pune's previous fixture against the Highlanders which they won, Popovic believes that the referees are finding it difficult to control the game.

As a result, the manager reckons the officials are putting the players in dangerous situations by refusing to take action against players who execute dangerous tackles. He alluded to how his star striker, Marcelinho was at the receiving end of several rash tackles, yet no action was taken by the referee.

"The referees never give us a penalty! We are not Manchester United to create 10 chances. We can create 1-2 chances to score. The referees have to protect the players and feel the game," he said.

"In the last game, Marcelinho received so many hard tackles from behind. They were trying to kill him! Such players must be sent off. Don't send me out because I ask this! Protect him and this is what I feel. The referees must know what is the problem," he stated.

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