Colombo: FC HTTU Coach Rowshen Meredov was bursting with pride as he praised his AFC President’s Cup winning side for their best performance of the tournament in defeating Rimyongsu Club of DPR Korea 2-1 in Friday’s final.
Goals either side of half-time from Akmyrat Jumanazarov and Suleyman Muhadov had given the Turkmen club a shock 2-0 lead against a Rimyongsu side that had not conceded a goal in the tournament, let alone gone behind in a game.
And even though Ri Kwang-hyok did eventually reduce the deficit on 86 minutes, FC HTTU were able to see out the remaining time to claim the title, and spark wild celebrations on the pitch and in the dugout.
“I am so proud of my team, I call them my friends, my brothers; not my players,” said coach Meredov, who successfully ensured the AFC President’s Cup remains in Turkmenistan after fellow Yokary Liga side Balkan FT claimed the title in 2013.
“The team showed their real performance today. We didn’t play like this in the group stages, we didn’t show our real ability. But today this was the real FC HTTU.
“At the beginning of our season I said this was our objective: the AFC President’s Cup. We will never forget tonight and we will never forget this tournament.”
Rimyongsu coach Jo Tong-sop, meanwhile, conceded that his players were not mentally prepared for the final despite cruising through the group stage with a 5-0 drubbing over FC Erchim in their Group B opener on Monday, before Wednesday’s comfortable 4-0 win against Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited had secured them a place in the final.
“The players were very nervous ahead of the game today and as a result weren’t able to play their best. Unfortunately, we did not properly apply everything we had worked on in training in the final,” said the former DPR Korea national team coach, who claimed that the absence of two key players was an obstacle the side could not surmount.
“The match today was definitely a step up in terms of difficulty compared the group stages, but we had expected that to be the case.
“What we struggled with more was that we didn’t have Jang Kwang-hyok as a result of injury and Ri Sang-chol due to suspension – they are big players for us.
“I have a learnt a lot from this match, mainly that psychological and physical preparation is key and if that’s not 100% right then this kind of result will happen.”