The Spaniard rubbished the claim that their lack of experience would cost his team over the course of the long season.
It has been a topsy-turvy journey for FC Goa in the Indian Super League (ISL). After falling short at the final hurdle against Chennaiyin FC in 2015, they endured a campaign to forget, both on and off the pitch, last season. However, like most of their rivals, the Gaurs have begun the new season with a clean slate, with a new head coach, players and even management.
The Gaurs replaced stalwart Zico with Spanish tactician Sergio Lobera who was formerly assistant manager at FC Barcelona in the time of former manager the late Tito Vilanova. As such, the Spaniard brings a lot of top-level experience to the table.
Its been a bright start to the new era for the Gaurs. After a convincing win away to Chennaiyin, they fell just short against Mumbai City FC last weekend. Khel Now’s Sabin Castelino caught up with the new Goan head coach ahead of his team’s meeting with Mumbai, for an exclusive chat about his experience in India, the team’s emphasis on promoting Goan youngsters and more.
Watch: FC Goa manager Sergio Lobera opens up exclusively to Khel Now
Lobera was quick to praise the organization of the ISL when asked about his experience so far in the league. He said, “I am very happy, overall with how things have turned out so far. I think the league is well-organized and very well-structured.
I spoke to a lot of people before coming here and all of them gave me a very positive response in terms of how the league is structured and how the tournament is, how the country is, and so on. Now, having lived it myself personally in the last couple of weeks, I must say that everything that has come my way, I have been positively surprised by it.”
Goa were one of the lowest spenders in the ISL draft this season and spent a lot of money on signing young talent mostly from the state. When asked about this the Spaniard shunned the money-minded approach to football and elaborated on his strategy saying, “Money is not everything in football. If the likes of Athletico de Madrid can beat the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona to the La Liga title, despite having spent a lot less than them, then everything is possible.”
He added, “I am genuinely very happy with the level of the players that we have picked up in the draft. I think the club worked very well together as a collective to ensure that we got all the people that we wanted to bring in and make sure that we get the best possible result.”
“What I am very pleased about is the fact that they have all these players who are local who will be defending their own home ground and their own club and that is what I am more focused on. In fact, I am very happy with the squad that I have,” explained the Goa manager
Last season FC Goa finished bottom of the table with only four wins in the entire campaign. But, Lobera quickly dismissed last season’s bad run saying, “What happened in the past and last year is in the past. There’s no point looking at the past, we have to be moving forward and do what’s best for our team this year. While lot of the other teams might be facing pressure and a lot of people will be expecting a lot of things from us, but we consider that as motivation.”
In football, a spirited young side can go on a roll and win matches but when the going gets tough, it is often seen that young teams usually buckle under pressure. When asked if this could be a problem for his team Lobera answered, “All the good players when they first started out were lacking in experience. They only got to the point where they are now by getting an opportunity.”
“So if you don’t give them opportunity than how will they prove themselves as players? They need to be able to develop and compete simultaneously. For us, what we are going to do is to find the best possible options, so that they develop themselves as a player and get all the opportunity that they need,” he concluded.