ISL 2023-24 Semifinal: The players showed strong character and mentality, says Odisha boss Lobera

Mohun Bagan went in front in the third minute through Manvir Singh before Carlos Delgado and Roy Krishna scored to hand Odisha the advantage going into the second leg on April 28.

Published : Apr 24, 2024 10:09 IST , BHUBANESWAR - 3 MINS READ

Odisha FC coach Segio Lobera.
Odisha FC coach Segio Lobera. | Photo Credit: FSDL / ISL Media

Odisha FC coach Segio Lobera. | Photo Credit: FSDL / ISL Media


Odisha FC coach Sergio Lobera hailed his team’s mentality and character after its dramatic 2-1 comeback victory over Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the first leg of the ISL 2023-24 semifinal at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.

“It is about the mentality to win important games by showing the right character on the pitch. We have always tried to show strong character, speed and competitiveness on the field. It is not the first game we have come back after conceding a goal. I am happy with the way the players reacted after conceding the goal and got themselves back in the game against a big team like Mohun Bagan SG,” Lobera said after the match.

The 47-year-old felt that this kind of performance gives his team the mental edge in the second leg, which will be played in Kolkata. “We would love to take this advantage and mentality ahead to Kolkata and try to keep the goal aggregate in our favour by putting out another good performance,” he said. 

“It is painful to lose a player like Carlos (Delgado) to two yellow cards in this kind of situation but that is football and you have to be ready for the challenge. We are feeling the excitement of our supporters and are ready for the next challenge, there is no pressure. And like the previous time (in the AFC Cup) we are hopeful of getting another victory in their (Mohun Bagan’s) home in Kolkata,” Lobera reminded about the big 5-2 win his team had against the same opponent in Salt Lake Stadium on November 27, 2023, in the group stage of the continental tournament.

The Odisha FC head coach said that his team ending the home games unbeaten in the whole ISL season is a result of the hard work and commitment put up by the players. “This achievement is proof of the hard work put up by the players. It has been an amazing season where the team had some really big achievements to remain unbeaten at home (in the ISL). I am really thankful to the supporters for the way they have backed the team and have pushed us to go for good results even in difficult situations. Our supporters also deserve credit for this big achievement of the team,” Lobera said.

ALSO READ | Odisha FC rides on Krishna’s winner to turn tables on Mohun Bagan SG in first leg of semifinal

The mood in the Mohun Bagan camp was a bit despondent after the defeat. Head coach Head coach Antonio Lopez Habas blamed individual mistakes stemming from a lack of commitment on the field for the loss.

“There were too many individual mistakes which made it very difficult to organize the team to play collectively against a side like Odisha FC. Our players seemed to be relaxing mentally which is normal after you have made a big achievement like winning the League Shield,” Habas said after the match.

“The players needed to put their 100 per cent in a game like the semifinal which did not happen here. We now look to change this in the next game at home and qualify for the final,” Habas said about the work that needs to be done to get the team back in competitive mode in the second leg scheduled at Kolkata on April 28 which the team needs to win by a two-goal margin to qualify for the final.

“The preparation was there like any other match we have played so far but the players were not there in the game mentally and we can hope that the situation will be absolutely different in Kolkata,” he added.

The Spaniard was also critical of the standard of the officiating. “The referee made bad decisions and (Armando) Sadiku did not deserve the second yellow as both the players went for the ball. Referees are making too many mistakes in the tournament which is bad for the game,” Habas cocluded.

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