Press conference by Shakhtar head coach Igor Jovičević after the away match against Feyenoord (1:7).
– Can you explain that happened today?
– What happened was that one team was better than us, and that was Feyenoord. We must congratulate Feyenoord on a good game. There are days like this, it’s football. Recently, there are examples of both Manchester United and Leipzig. We at least scored a goal, but they didn’t even score, so the teams lose better than us. This is one day that must pass as a coach. And I want to apologize to the Ukrainian fans who were hoping for us, for today’s pass. Unfortunately, it turned out such a match. I have to draw many conclusions, where I will take responsibility as a coach without hiding behind this result. But we gave the maximum strength that we had today. The guys gave their all. This was not enough, and it was evident in every single combat – we were punished for every mistake. It was the determining factor. After 2-0 we had several moments when we could return to the game – two moments of Sudakov. But the third penalty goal was too psychological for us to stay in the game all the time. This is the first experience for us, the tenth match in the current European season – the Champions League and the Europa League. There were also key matches for the exit: with Celtic, when they left the group, then they beat Rennes. But today we got on the best team, which flew into everything that she hit on goal. And we must pay tribute, because Feyenoord is the top team today. And we are happy that we have gone this way: the first year in such conditions, where we live, where we travel to the match for 24 hours. We gave our all. And I congratulate Feyenoord on a good game, on a good team and wish you success.
– Of course, the Netherlands is worried about the Ukrainians: we know what situation you are in, this is war. How do you assess how the war and the situation in Ukraine played a role in this match?
– I would focus on football and give Feyenoord credit for playing better today than we did. And this is obvious from the result. It may not be serious on my part to excuse myself and look for reasons, because I am a coach, but this question has its own meaning. Indeed, it is very difficult to train at the moment. As you know, the sky is closed, we can’t travel by plane between two matches, so we go by bus. And the journey lasts much longer: 20 hours to get to the match with Kryvbas, 24 hours – here, in Rotterdam. But this is not the reason for the defeat. I say again that we played against a team that was better than us today. This is a good lesson. And we should be proud of the period in the European arena that we have gone from the first match against Leipzig, where they simply didn’t bet even one euro on us, that we have a chance to leave the group. Therefore, the guys deserve only praise, and today we are completing the European trip, for which in the first year we can say “chapo” – “I take off my hat.”
– Applause from the Dutch public – what is mean to you?
– This is respect. You have respect for us, and it is clear that your sports culture is very high, you respect your opponent. We tried not to play to zero. And this goal symbolically gave us strength – that we did not lose outright, like Leipzig or Manchester United. And we can only thank you for feeling your support. The fans were quite loud, the atmosphere is enchanting, but at the end they applauded our team as well – not only for today’s match, not only for this confrontation, but, I think, for the path that we have traveled as absolute outsiders. Without these 15 legionnaires, now playing with young Ukrainian talents, who will soon be leaders of the Ukrainian team. We are now focusing on the championship – just like you, although your European arena continues. And our priority is now changing: the European campaign is ending, we are focusing on the championship. We now also have a difference of three points, we are in first place, and for us the priority is the championship.