The Gaurs boss feels the table is not a true reflection of the league with all teams not having played the same number of games.
NorthEast United FC travel to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Sunday to face hosts FC Goa in Indian Super League (ISL). The Gaurs come off the back of a 3-4 setback at the hands of Mumbai City FC and currently find themselves beneath the top four, something they would want to set right against a team that have never beaten them in Goa. However, the league’s free-scorers would also be wary of the fact that they were beaten 1-2 in the reverse fixture by the Highlanders earlier in January.
Sergio Lobera, Goa’s head coach, spoke to the media during the post-match press-conference and talked about his team’s present positioning in the points table. “At this point of time, if they let me choose between fourth, fifth and sixth, but having played all the games that the other teams have played or to have games in hand, I would still prefer to be in our position, where we have games in hand and have an opportunity to climb up the table,” explained the Spaniard. “I think the other coaches would choose that option, too. It is a little difficult to paint the real picture because it is not a true reflection right now.”
He further added, “At the moment, it is one team with three games less, another team with two games less, and therefore I wouldn’t look at the table at this point of time. But if I had to look at the table, even if I didn’t want to, then I would say the position we are in is fine – three games less, but also an opportunity to climb the table.”
Lobera was also quick to rubbish any questions of his team being under pressure. “Pressure doesn’t exist for us at this point in time,” he stated. “The only thing that exists is excitement to try and improve upon a difficult season that we had last year. The pressure is for the others. And thanks to how it is at this point in time, it only depends on us whether we end up in the top four or not.”
The 41-year-old also shared the philosophy with which the Gaurs would take the field for their match-up against the Highlanders. “We will have to change some things for sure because of the red cards some players received in the last game,” he revealed. “But what will never change is our philosophy and our idea of playing that we think makes us the strongest.”
The hosts haven’t managed a single clean sheet this season, but Lobera insisted on looking at the brighter side of things. “In terms of conceding goals, I have read the articles,” Lobera said. “It could be titled in many ways. One could be, ‘Goa concede many goals’, or the other could be ‘Goa score a lot of goals’. Goa, at this point of time, have two of the top three goal-scorers in the league. This also is news. But the truth is only in the goal difference and we are the third-best team in the league.”