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Rude Awakening: Molina suffers ‘shock’ start as Kitchee coach

20140729_Jose-francisco-Molina_Kitchee-coach_615x400aNew Kitchee coach JOSE FRANCISCO MOLINA was thrust into the spotlight when his side lost 6-2 to French giants Paris Saint-Germain in ‘The Meeting of Champions’ at Hong Kong Stadium on July 29. (For match report, click: http://sport-asia.com/football-zlatan-bags-hat-trick-as-psg-thump-hk-champs-kitchee-6-2/)

 

The former Spain goalkeeper is under pressure to maintain Kitchee’s dominance in Hong Kong, where the club have won three of the last four league titles, and his next major task is to navigate two legs against Vietnam’s Vissai Ninh Binh in the AFC Cup quarter-finals on August 19 and 26.

 

Now 43, Molina made his name by helping Atletico Madrid the 1995-96 Spanish league and cup double in his first season with the club. He went on to win nine caps for Spain before joining Deportivo La Coruna in 2000, lifting the Copa del Rey two years later and eventually retiring in 2007.

 

What were your overall thoughts on the match against PSG, especially after you took the lead after five minutes?

We started the match very well, with good concentration and we pressed. But when they scored the first goal, we suffered a shock. They scored four goals in 20 minutes and knew they had won the game.

 

This 20 minutes was our worst part of the game. It was very difficult for us after this, but we woke up from this shock. For the rest, we played well. We tried to continue playing, attacking and pressing.

 

What were your thoughts on Paris Saint-Germain, who retained their Ligue 1 title in May?

We know Paris Saint-Germain are a great team with great players. They can play very fast, they think very quickly and it was very difficult for us. Unfortunately we are not at this level at this moment, but we will keep trying and maybe some day we will arrive. The difference is clear and we will try to improve, we will continue working, to grow up and try to reach this level some day.

 

Can you talk about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s performance?

Zlatan scored three goals. The last one was a very great jump. He’s a top-level player. Today, everyone can see this.

 

What were your thoughts on your own team’s performance?

We showed personality to play against this team. As I said, we suffered a shock for 20 minutes, but we showed personality. We tried to play well, to attack the goal. I think the team was together for the whole game – the lines were always together and in place – and we tried to press up. We need to improve, for sure, but I think we are on the right track.

 

A couple of the goals you conceded stemmed from attempted passes at the back. Is this a concern?

The strategy was to play from the back, but our first goal was a long pass over the top. I don’t think there were too many mistakes, but when you play from the back, mistakes can happen. Paris Saint-Germain also lost some balls at the back because they played from deep.

 

What were your thoughts on the young players, like Emmet Wan, Cheung Kwok-ming and Chan Cham-hei?

I’m happy with the young players. They’re trying to improve, to learn. We hope they can become great players because they’re the future of the team. At this moment, they’re not the level of the top players we have, but we hope they will improve.

 

What’s next for the team? What are you hoping to change or improve?

We need to improve everything. We are happy with the level of the team at this moment, but we’ll try to improve the level of everything. We have been training for only four weeks. We have a lot of work to do.

 

We are happy in this moment after four weeks, but I want my team to improve in everything. I’m sure these players can be better and my aim as a coach is to get the best out of my players. I want to help them to achieve this.

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