Mumbai City coach Sergio Lobera: My focus is on playing beautiful football

Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera, who was fired by FC Goa last season despite being on top of the table, feels ISL 2020-21 will be most competitive season ever.

Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera had guided FC Goa to the top of the Indian Super League table last season before being fired.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Sergio Lobera – who gave FC Goa its identity and first title – will be managing Mumbai City in the upcoming ISL season, and the Spanish coach will be in familiar settings as the tournament’s seventh season will be held across three venues of the coastal state.  

Lobera admits he has many fond memories from his time at Goa. “We implemented a new style of play, won the first trophy of the club (Super Cup 2019), produced more players for the Indian national team and qualified for the AFC Champions League,” he said, with no hint of bitterness over his mid-season sacking last year.  

The 43-year-old boasts a fine record in Indian football. Since taking over FC Goa in 2017, after the team had finished at the bottom of the table, he brought a new vision and style of play that took the team to the semifinal in his debut ISL season. He then guided the Gaurs to a runner-up finish in the ISL and the Super Cup title in his second season and Goa was on top of the table when the two parties parted ways during the 2019-20 season.

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The Spaniard is now keen to make a mark at Mumbai City FC. “Every team wants to win but my focus is on playing beautiful football, implementing a new style of play and the final target is to win. It is a process and will take some time, but I am not using these as excuses. My focus is not just winning games, but how we win the games,” he said.

Mumbai City has assembled a formidable squad, making reinforcements in every department – Mourtada Fall and Mandar Rao Dessai in defence, Ahmed Jahouh and Hugo Boumous in midfield and Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam Le Fondre leading the attack. Interestingly, four out of these six players followed Lobera from FC Goa to Mumbai City.  

“The most important thing I have learned during my career is to manage the group well. Everyone needs to know what the collective objective is and that the team always comes first. It is impossible to win a league if you want to play with only 11 players. I need the full squad to win the trophy, it is not possible to sign only 11 very good players. You can win games (with that approach) but not the league. We can change our style and formation, but the most important thing for me is players understanding our way of play,” he said.  

With the ISL expanding to 11 teams from this season and the arrival of Kolkata heavyweights ATK Mohun Bagan and SC East Bengal, Lobera is excited for what thinks will be “the most competitive season” of the ISL. “It is going to be the most competitive and a very different season. There are some very good teams and top signings and the teams have made great efforts to build their squads. We want to try to finish in the best position that is possible, and the best position is number one.”

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