Pune City cannot be disappointed with season despite semi-final loss, says coach Ranko Popovic
After the 3-1 loss in the second leg of the Indian Super League semi-final dumped them out of the competition, FC Pune City coach congratulated Bengaluru FC on the aggregate win and qualifying for the ISL final.
Sunil Chhetri's hat-trick sealed a win at the Kanteerava on Sunday night as the Blues sealed their spot in the final in their debut season. Although Pune city threatened to make a comeback and equalise with a second away goal, Chhetri put the game out of reach for the visitors.
"Firstly I would like to congratulate Bengaluru FC and I would like to wish them best of luck for the final. They deserve to be in the final - especially because the final game is here. They have fantastic supporters.
"We tried to make it difficult and we tried to win the game today - it was our target. But we can't be disappointed; especially with this historical season for FC Pune City, especially for our young players.
"The first two goals [we conceded] were due to inexperience. If you make such mistakes in some game it's fine but to make those mistakes in the the second leg of the semi-final - it was too much. We tried to come back in the game, we tried to score a second but it wasn't possible.
"But if we take this game out out the context of the entire season, our championship was fantastic and we can be satisfied."
Popovic heaps praise on Chhetri
"Sunil Chhetri is probably the best player in India ever," Popovic said. "These kind of players know how to play in these kind of games. He scored a hat-trick. I’m not happy that Chhetri was the hero of the match. It might have been better if there was a hero from our side.
"Two years ago none of our young players were thinking about playing Chhetri. Now they had that chance and maybe they didn't use that chance the way they wanted. Maybe next year we will have someone in our team who will score three goals."
There was a moment of controversy in the second half when Pune City deemed to have won a penalty when Subhasish Bose had conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box.
At the time the Pune bench were up in arms over the decision, claiming it was a penalty but the Pune City coach chose not to dwell on the matter.
"What I think of the decision now is not important but some Bengaluru players said it was inside. I have to see. It looked like it was inside the box but I am not sure."