The win helped the hosts climb to the top of the table.
FC Goa ran out 1-0 winners over bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Thursday in their final league stage match of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19. The win ensured Goa finish in the second place of the table. For last season’s champions Chennaiyin, the loss marked the end of a disappointing season.
At the post-match presser, Goa head coach Sergio Lobera shared his thoughts about the victory. When asked about the three changes he made to the squad for the match and the performance of debutant Saviour Gama, Lobera replied, “We had four players who were on three bookings and we didn’t want to risk losing them for the semi-finals. So, we had to look for some replacements. I am very happy for Gama. He knew how to take the chance. This proves how FC Goa works from the development perspective. It proves that we are not only ready for the present but for the future also.”
Goa missed out on the top spot to Bengaluru owing to the head-to-head record, despite having the same number of points. Commenting on the development, the Spaniard stated, “I am very happy. If you look at both our squads, us and Bengaluru, we have made slight changes only. Last season they were 10 points ahead of us. I am happy because we are the best team in the league at home, in terms of goal difference, in terms of the most clean sheets. I have to congratulate the players for their hard work. But it will feel much better if we can win the trophy to go with the records.”
Asked if he was anticipating a final clash with Bengaluru, Lobera said, “I want to concentrate on the semi-finals. We are not thinking about the final. It’s key that we focus on the semis.”
Lobera also issued a plea for the Goa fans to turn up in numbers to give the team the edge in their home leg of the semi-finals. “I want to ask the fans one thing. I want them in the second leg of the semis – our home match. I want the stadium to be packed. I know the match is not on a weekend, but I want them to make an effort and be beside the team,” he said.
From Chennaiyin’s end, head coach John Gregory addressed the media after the match. The Englishman went on to analyse the action on the pitch and said, “I think we had at least four-five big chances to score but couldn’t take them. I thought we kept Goa pretty quiet in the game to be honest. They’re a free-scoring team who score a lot of goals. To have gone behind when we did, I think we worked very hard for the rest of the match. I think there were some exceptional performances by one or two of my players.”
“But ultimately we lost the game. It has been a problem throughout the season for us. We weren’t very prolific last season, but defensively we were very strong. We have really struggled to score goals this season. If you look at the top four teams who qualified for the semis, they have outstanding goal scorers. We haven’t scored enough goals and it was evident tonight,” he added.
Asked about his feelings after winning the title last season but finishing bottom this time around, Gregory said, “For me, it’s a personal insult. I am a proud man and I am not very proud of my team finishing at the bottom of the table. It’s a statistic which I’m not very proud of but I have to accept it as it is. The club will start with a clean slate next season. But I won’t be here next year.”