The 45-year-old’s coaching team remains the same from his days with the Islanders.

Sergio Lobera, who won back-to-back Indian Super League (ISL) League Winners’ Shields with FC Goa and Mumbai City, has shifted base to China to take over as head coach at Sichuan Jiuniu FC. He had also won the ISL Championship Trophy with Mumbai City last season.

“Sergio Lobera has Sichuan Jiuniu Football Club as the new Head Coach, ahead of the Chinese League One 2022 season. Commencing his coaching career at FC Barcelona in 2006, the 45-year-old Spaniard has a wealth of experience in leagues around the world. Lobera has managed clubs in Spain, Morocco, India and had a spell as assistant manager of FC Barcelona in 2012,” the club’s official statement read.

For those don’t know, Sichuan Jiuniu FC ply their trade in the second division of the Chinese football league system. They are owned and operated by the City Football Group (CFG), who also own Lobera’s former club Mumbai City.

Football fans in India need no introduction to the Spaniard, who was most recently the head coach at Mumbai City. He oversaw the club’s most successful campaign ever, when the club became only the second team in ISL history to complete a historic double in the 2020-21 season. Prior to that, he led FC Goa to the League Winners’ Shield in the 2019-20 season, thereby helping them secure a berth in AFC Champions League 2021.

The 45-year-old could not lead the Gaurs in the ACL, as he had left the club by then. The same situation has happened once again for him, as Mumbai City – who qualified for ACL 2022 – no longer have him as head coach.

Regarding Sergio Lobera’s appointment at Sichuan Jiuniu, Scott Munn, Chief Executive of City Football Group China, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Sergio to Sichuan Jiuniu Football Club. He’s a fantastic coach with winning pedigree and has strong proven track record in different countries and leagues, most recently with our sister club in Mumbai. We are confident that he has all the skills and qualities to take the team to the next level. Sergio is particularly renowned for developing young players, which is so important here as football continues to develop and grow in China.”

Similarly, commenting on his own appointment, Lobera said: “I’m absolutely delighted to continue to join Sichuan Jiuniu FC and extend my coaching journey with CFG. We all believe this is a great opportunity to take up a new challenge in China. There’s a strong aspiration of players and a huge potential in this team, and I’m looking forward to starting work as soon as possible.”

The Spaniard’s coaching team includes assistant coach Jesus Tato, fitness and conditioning coach, Manuel Sayabera and Goalkeeping coach, Juan Maria Cruz Arias, all of who were part of his team at Mumbai City as well. The new coaching group will travel to China pending receipt of their visas.

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