ISL final: Lobera keen to settle scores with old friend Cuadrat

FC Goa's Sergio Lobera and Bengaluru FC's Carles Caudrat, who previously worked together in Barcelona youth teams, will plot each other's downfall in the ISL final at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Carles Cuadrat Sergio Lobera

Cuadrat (R) has got the better of Lobera in their two meetings in the league stages.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Familiar foes will be in their respective dugouts when FC Goa and Bengaluru FC face-off in the Indian Super League season five final on Sunday night at the Mumbai Football Arena. Spanish compatriots Sergio Lobera (Goa) and Carles Cuadrat (Bengaluru) are coaches speaking the same football language. While the former is relaxed despite losing to Mumbai City FC in a play-off leg, the latter endured some anxious moments in his team’s rousing 3-0 win over NorthEast United FC.

READ | Mumbai’s best not able to halt Goa’s march into final

Lobera, who has previously managed Barcelona youth teams, pointed out the common links with Cuadrat from the rival camp in the title decider. “The problem in the final is that both coaches are Spanish, who also are friends and have worked together," he said, referring to the time the duo were involved with Barcelona youth teams.

Lobera, 42, joined as chief coach replacing Zico in the ISL, while Caudrat served as assistant to Alberto Roca at BFC before earning a promotion.

The 2019 final is Lobera’s first taste of a title clash, and he expressed the hunger to be part of a winning squad. Although BFC has won two of its meetings with the Gaurs this season, the title clash is a different ball game.

“To be honest I am a very ambitious coach. I am still to recover from the (reverses) two games against Bengaluru and wanted to face them in the final," said Lobera, when quizzed whether NorthEast would have been a preferred opponent than Cuadrat’s side which topped the league.

READ | Bengaluru thumps NorthEast, storms to second successive final

Lobera viewed the four league defeats and one in the play-off as a learning experience and rated BFC as the favourite. “I consider Bengaluru as the favourite. From every match, you have to learn from the mistakes and pick whatever you did right and keep repeating it. I believe the final will be completely different to the two games (play-offs against Mumbai City).”

Goa under Zico was outsmarted by Chennaiyin FC in 2015. Four seasons later, a second shot at the title has come, pitting one friend against the other.