The Spaniard recently oversaw Mumbai City FC’s historic campaign.
In a sudden turn of events, Sergio Lobera has stepped down as the head coach of Mumbai City FC. Lobera departs for a fresh challenge within the City Football Group setup and former Melbourne City assistant coach Des Buckingham will take over the Islanders’ hot-seat. The Englishman joins the team following a successful season in Australia.
Lobera belongs to the elite list of coaches that the Indian Super League (ISL) has had over the years. As he departs for a fresh challenge, let us take a look at the top five achievements of the Spaniard in Indian football:
5. Style of play
If you look at the style of play in the ISL before Lobera came to India, you will notice the absence of possession-based football. Many coaches came and tried their level best to implement the style, but none of them achieved success.
Lobera was one of the first coaches who succeeded in implementing possession-based football. Doing that, plus getting results on a consistent basis, was something he did for the first time in Indian football. Short and quick passes, tactical bravery and high pressing were the key elements of his setup. His preferred 4-2-3-1 system usually allowed to him to have immense control across all aspects of the game.
4. Development of Indian players
We are all aware of how good FC Goa’s Indian contingent is, but this was not always the case.
Players like Brandon Fernandes, Mandar Rao Dessai were given a new lease of life by Lobera. He changed everyone’s perspective towards them. From them not being a part of the national team setup to being regulars, Lobera has had a big role to play.
Fernandes is now the first-choice No. 10 for FC Goa as well as the Indian football team. His ability to read the game, play as a makeshift winger and long-range passing make him an irreplaceable asset. Mandar started as a left winger, but Lobera turned him into a left-back. His contributions as a full-back for FC Goa and later Mumbai City have been prominent.
In summation, Sergio Lobera gave a lot to Indian Football, but the development of Indian players tops the list.
3. Super Cup
The Spaniard led FC Goa to their first-ever title in 2019. The Gaurs won the Super Cup just after losing the 2018-19 ISL final against Bengaluru FC in extra-time. They started their campaign with a 3-0 win against Indian Arrows in the Round-of-16. This was followed by a 4-3 win against Jamshedpur in the quarter-finals.
They faced a tough challenge against the then defending I-league champions Chennai City in the semi-final. But, Goa emerged victorious by 3-0 and later finished their title heist against top flight rivals Chennaiyin FC with a 2-1 win.
2. Success across two clubs
The former FC Barcelona youth manager played a big role in leading FC Goa to their second title. He helped the Gaurs win their first ISL League Winners’ Shield in 2019-20, as they secured a first place finish on the league table. But, unfortunately, he had to part ways with the club before he could get his hands on the silverware. Under him, FC Goa won nine, drew and lost three games each, scoring 27 goals that season.
However, Lobera eventually got his hands on the Shield the following season with the Islanders. Mumbai City finished at the top of the points table and bagged their first-ever title. As a result, they will also be India’s face at the AFC Champions League next season.
1. ISL Title
After multiple heartbreaks and one runners-up medal with FC Goa, Sergio Lobera finally won the ISL title with the Islanders. He helped Mumbai City cap off their best-ever season to-date, with the highly-coveted Indian Super League title. Lobera’s FC Goa made it to the final in 2019-20, but were outplayed by eventual champions Bengaluru FC.
But this time around, the Spaniard emerged victorious as the Islanders defeated ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1. He made the City Football Group-owned outfit the second club to win the League Winners’ Shield and the ISL title in the same season.