New Straits Times

Tuchel reveals Man Utd defeat left him in a ‘dark place’

- Jugjet Singh

LONDON: Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has revealed he was left in a “dark place” after Manchester United knocked Paris Saint Germain out of the Champions League during his time in charge of the French club.

Tuchel has a chance to avenge that painful loss against United when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side visit Stamford Bridge in a crucial Premier League clash today.

That will be the fifth time in just over two years that Tuchel has faced United.

The 47-year-old still has the mental scars from PSG’s 2019 meltdown against United.

After a 2-0 victory at Old Trafford, PSG were left stunned at Parc des Princes three weeks later when they conceded a penalty in stoppage-time to suffer a 3-1 defeat and exit the last 16 on away goals.

“I can be very honest, after that match I was two days in a very dark place and I can tell you I was not able to speak to anybody and to think about anything else than this defeat,” Tuchel said.

“That maybe was the worst defeat that I experience­d because it came from nowhere. It was, in a way, in the circumstan­ces that it arrived. I was for two days in a dark place for a coach to be at.”

It remains the only time the former Borussia Dortmund boss has felt that low after a result but he admitted it proved a

crucial learning experience.

PSG were able to bounce back and win the Ligue 1 title before Tuchel led them to a Champions League final defeat against Bayern Munich last season.

“I didn’t experience anything like this ever again or before,” said Tuchel.

“It was in the circumstan­ces, this game, how we arrived there, the pressure around the club concerning the round of 16, the

history before and the result of the first match and the way the second match went with the VAR decision in the last minute.

“It was like it came from absolutely nowhere and that’s why this hit was hard to take. But, like I said, I was two days in a dark place but then we gave the players two days off and I think that was the best for everybody.

“After that, it’s like this in sports, it can

teach you that you have to stand up and accept that a defeat is sometimes necessary to grow and develop and to ask yourself decisive questions.

“That can hurt and the reward was one year later, it was almost the perfect reward when we arrived in the final and we came a long way for that. It was through adversity and it’s often said that it makes you stronger.”

Malaysian Hockey Confederat­ion (MHC) are glad that the pre-season Covid-19 testing conducted by clubs has weeded out the positives ahead of the new Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season.

The men’s MHL starts on March 11, followed by the women’s tournament four days later. Both competitio­ns end on April 3.

To date, three Covid-19 positive Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) players — Shello Silverius, Faizal Saari and Khalid Hamirin — are in quarantine for 10 days at the MAEPS Centre in Serdang.

Tenaga Nasional heaved a sigh of relief yesterday as two of Shello’s house-mates returned with negative results.

“Our players (Shazril Irwan, Syawal Razak and Amirul Aideed) who were living in a rented house with Shello or had close contact with the other two THT players have all tested negative.

“However, they will still undergo self-quarantine for 10 days as a precaution­ary measure before checking into camp,” said Tenaga Nasional coach Nor Saiful Zaini yesterday.

MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal said: “That was why we insisted on testing players and officials before allowing them to start training.

“It is a precaution­ary measure to ensure nobody is carrying the virus when they check into the sports-bubble venue (on March 10).

“Another round of testing will be conducted on them three days before the tournament. We will also conduct tests every other week during the tournament,” he said.

The sports bubble venue will be finalised tomorrow. It will have security features to keep players in and Covid-19 out.

“We have the venue in mind, and we will finalise it on Monday (tomorrow).

“The venue will house about 600 players and officials. There will be no contact with ‘outsiders’ on the booked floors.

“It will be a hotel or a residency, likely near the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. We will be providing transporta­tion to-and-from training sessions and matches,” Subahan added,

Food will also be covered by the MHC, who are spending around RM2 million to host the MHL this year.

Sportswrit­ers Associatio­n of Malaysia (SAM) have requested for the Super League and Premier League to reconsider some of the rules set for media practition­ers as they do not seem practical.

According to SAM, rules like requiring media personnel, including photograph­ers, to take a mandatory RTK (Rapid Test Kit) Antigen Test before every match will only burden the media more with additional costs.

“It will cost between RM100-RM150 for an RTK Antigen Test. Imagine how much the media will have to pay throughout the season,” said SAM president Datuk Jasni Shafie in a statement yesterday.

“It will also be time-consuming.”

SAM are aware that the Malaysian Football League (MFL) are merely implementi­ng the standard operating procedure (SOPs) set by the National Security Council (NSC) and the Health Ministry.

“But the MFL must also consider the financial impact it will have on the media.”

SAM also slammed the MFL for preventing coaches and players from being interviewe­d at the training grounds, calling it nonsense.

“If ministers can be interviewe­d under strict SOPs, why not players and coaches?”

SAM will bring this up with Sports Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican in the hope that he will discuss it with the NSC and the Health Ministry for a solution.

“As members of the media, we are working hard to get sports started again, but our freedfewom and welfare must also be taken care of,” Jasni added.Fabian

 ??  ?? Chelsea have yet to lose a match under new manager Thomas Tuchel, who took over from Frank Lampard last month.
Chelsea have yet to lose a match under new manager Thomas Tuchel, who took over from Frank Lampard last month.
 ??  ?? Nor Saiful Zaini
Nor Saiful Zaini

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