Kathmandu: Indian football team's chief coach Wim Koevermans was a visibly satisfied man as he termed his team "deserving winners" of the semi-final match against Maldives while a furious and frustrated Maldives coach Urbanyi Istavan Bela made a contradictory statement that "India never deserved to win."
While India's Dutch coach can take heart from the fact that his strategy of shutting out Ali Ashfaq worked wonderfully.
"I am very proud of the boys as we showed how good we can be. We started defensively and showed patience. The best part was that we didn't allow to get bogged down under any kind of pressure. The combination worked fine for us and we deserved to win," Koevermans said at the post-match press conference.
Maldives' Hungarian coach was, however, livid about a penalty, which he felt was denied to Ashfaq by Jordanian referee Idham Mohammed.
"You don't have to get killed in order to get a penalty," Bela said sarcastically. (India set up final with Afghanistan after 1-0 win over Maldives)
"I am sorry but India never deserved to win as we were the ones who were playing football. India were simply playing mindgames," the Maldives coach further added.
But the losing coach did find it hard to explain the poor conduct of his players who attacked the referee and in the process a couple of their players -- Ali Umar and Mohammed Rasheed -- were red-carded.
Asked if he wasn't aware that his team could get disciplinary sanctions from the AFC as some of the players tried to attack All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) treasurer Dheerendra Pradhan, Bela was on the defensive.
"I know what you are saying but players were emotionally charged and I will not hold anything against them."
Koevermans, however, did rub salt into the opposition coach's wounds when asked about "mind games".
"You don't play football that way. In the second half, we played exceptionally well. We hardly let them play. We were ones who were playing football. And frankly speaking, I don't care what others think. They were dominating but that was in their own half and far from our end which wasn't dangerous at all," Koevermans said.
The coach did not wish to comment about the behaviour of the Maldives players after defeat.
"I don't want comment about what other team but everyone saw what happened after the match," Koevermans said.
The former Dutch international did admit that opposition striker Ashfaq's pre-match comments about this being the worst Indian team did motivate the boys.
"Obviously, the coaches would use these kinds of comments to motivate his players in a positive manner. The boys showed what they are capable of."
Koevermans did praise Robin Singh for his efforts upfront as he replaced Sunil Chhetri who was out with double yellow.
"It's not easy to replace a captain and Robin did a commendable job."