The Spanish tactician will look to register his first win for the Islanders as they face the Gaurs.
Mumbai City FC will take on FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on November 25. Preparing to face their former side, head coach Sergio Lobera and attacking midfielder Hugo Boumous addressed the media in the pre-match press conference ahead of the game.
Reflecting on their loss against NorthEast United FC in their season opener, Boumous indicated that it was in fact a game of two halves. “It was a bit difficult because we didn’t get that much time to prepare but it’s the same for all the teams in the ISL. I think we did very good steps in the first half.
“We played well, we gained possession but of course there are some steps where we need to improve. Then, it became very difficult when Ahmed (Jahouh) got a red card. To play 10 against 11 during almost one hour is really not easy, it’s difficult because we had to make lot of efforts and moreover, they got one penalty. So it has been one difficult. But we showed good steps so let’s take it to the next games,” the attacking midfielder explained.
The incumbent ‘Golden Ball’ winner was instrumental to the Gaurs as they qualified for the AFC Champions League this season. He was the creative lynchpin of FC Goa and had a very successful stint at the club starting from the 2017-18 campaign. However, brushing aside any emotional attachment or additional pressure in the forthcoming match, Boumous said, “Not that much. This is the past, now I want to focus on the season with Mumbai, to do the best with Mumbai. After all, of course, I have few teammates against I will play tomorrow with whom I have played in the past few years but that’s it.”
However, Sergio Lobera admitted that to face the Gaurs at Fatorda will be an emotional moment for him. The tactician recalled his memorable spell and achievements with the team that his troops will come up against on Wednesday. “Obviously, it’s a special game for me. The last three seasons I worked as head coach of FC Goa. I leave and I had good memories because we achieved a lot of things, the first time in the history of the club we get them an opportunity to play in an Asian competition,” the 43-year-old explained.
He added, “After I arrive at FC Goa, the team was in the bottom of the table. We played three playoffs in a row, increased the number of Indian players in the national team. I had a lot of good memories. I had friends there and my former players, staff and it’s a special game for me. But tomorrow we need to compete well and try to win the game.”
Raynier Fernandes had limped out after suffering an injury early in the first half against Gerard Nus’ men. Asked about any update on the midfielder’s fitness, Lobera quipped, “We need to check. Today we had the last training session before the game. We need to check the full squad and we need to decide the players who are available for tomorrow’s game.”
Adam Le Fondre started the game against the Highlanders from the right-wing. The Englishman displayed a tenacious attitude but wasn’t really efficient from the flanks. Having both him and Bartholomew Ogbeche in the squad, Sergio Lobera will have to possibly bench one of them in the upcoming game. “To compare players is very difficult. But, Adam Le Fondre has a lot of experience. He is a big player, very good player for us. I want to try to manage the best first XI. This was my option in the last game. Maybe it is possible to do this or maybe I need to change something but the most important thing for me, an amazing problem is to have very good players,” the gaffer remarked.
Lobera’s FC Goa side comprehensively defeated Mumbai City FC on multiple occasions in the last two Indian Super League seasons. Having switched allegiances now, the head coach will have quite a task up his sleeves in the coming game. But, the Spaniard does not look eager to conclude much from the past and is confident of the ability in his current squad.
“I think the past will not affect the future. I think from the present it is possible to change the future. We need to work well and you know how my style of play and my ideas is. I think we have the profile of players to play this way. We are strong playing in this way. I try to implement our style of play. Obviously, we need time but it’s not excuses to compete well and not excuses about to try and win tomorrow’s game,” Sergio Lobera opened up.
The head coach has reiterated it that FC Goa have a starkly different playing style and approach towards the game than NorthEast United FC. Detailing on the same, the Spaniard said, “Obviously, I need to change because I don’t have the same players. But, my focus is to keep the things that we did well and obviously to try to improve the situation and the things that we can learn and improve in our mistakes. But as I told you before, the NorthEast game is not possible to compare to tomorrow’s game; because, they are very different teams, playing different styles of play. We will have more spaces and we can play in another way in a different situation.”