Bledar Kola: “Zenit is strong as a team”

The coach of the Greek side commented on the result of his first match as AEK’s interim head coach.
– First of all I’d like to congratulate Zenit, – Kola started his press conference. – And not only with the score on the board. I’m very impressed by their teamwork, their desire and their unity in play. I’d like to congratulate my players too, for their effort in today’s game, for their determination. It wasn’t easy for us to play with this line-up, especially after the immediate change in score right at the beginning of the match. That beginning made it even more difficult for us, even tougher. And I want to congratulate my players again. They played hard, they didn’t lose their spirit. We played dynamic, fast football in the first half. But we still gave up a lot of goals, and we’re going to have to analyze those now. And this is especially important to do considering what an important match we have on Sunday.

– Of those mistakes which the team made, which were the most significant?
– The first thing I would point to is that we need to increase our overall team discipline. We’re going to work hard on that. Even though we can analyze individual mistakes, it’s much more important to improve our total contribution, our overall discipline. Only in that way, if we’re all going to contribute, can we move forward.

– Why didn’t you let the player who was getting ready to take the penalty go ahead and do so? You substituted him.

– Actually, I didn"t want to do that. I asked the referee to make the substitution only after the penalty kick, but he didn’t let me do so. In my opinion he should have let the player take it.

– Spalletti made a lot of changes to his starting line-up. You probably prepared for this match. How unexpected were the changes to you, and how did they influence the match?

– They didn‘t change anything. They didn’t have any effect on us. Mr. Spalletti formed his team based on his own views, and I prepared for the match based on my views. Let me say again that one of Zenit’s main merits is its teamwork. The whole team thinks well together, they all understand what’s going on. Maybe Bukharov wanted to play more than Kerzhakov did? (Smiles.)