The Mumbai City FC head coach also revealed that he hopes to repeat his achievement in the future.
Mumbai City FC capped off a perfect campaign by lifting the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy by defeating ATK Mohun Bagan 2-1 at the Fatorda Stadium on Saturday night. The Islanders had already won the League Winners’ Shield a couple of weeks ago and have made an impressive start to their journey under the tutelage of Sergio Lobera.
David Williams opened the scoring for the Mariners early on in the game. However, Tiri’s own-goal meant that the teams went into half-time on level terms. Later, Bartholomew Ogbeche capitalized on Arindam Bhattacharya’s goalkeeping howler in the 90th minute and assisted Bipin Singh to notch the winner. Here are the excerpts from Lobera’s post-match media interaction:
Initial feeling on victory
Extending his gratitude to all the stakeholders, Sergio Lobera said, “The feeling is impossible to describe in words. There are a lot of emotions. There are behind a lot of efforts. I am very happy because Mumbai City family, the City Football Group deserve this.
“Our family, the players, I am very proud of my team. It’s not only about the players, it’s about the persons. We are a family and you can see this in the pitch. I am very happy with this season and we deserve to enjoy this moment.”
On doing the double this year
Mumbai City became only the second ISL team after Bengaluru FC (2018-19) to finish at the top of the league standings and emerge victorious in the playoffs.
Asked about his impeccable trophy-laden season in India so far, Lobera playfully reminded the silverware that he had won with FC Goa too. “And the Super Cup,” the tactician smiled.
“I am very happy, I am very happy because it’s not about the coach. If you want to win trophies, you need to have very good players, very good staff, a very good club and I am very happy. I am very happy because it’s not easy to win two trophies in the same season and make history with the club. But, the big efforts of everyone has done, finally we have done big achievement,” he added.
Is Bipin Singh the success story of this season?
Bipin Singh had a defining season under the stewardship of Sergio Lobera. The left winger was a fringe squad player for the club in 2019-20, but rose up the ranks to score six goals and assist four others in 22 appearances in this campaign.
Speaking about the incredible emergence of the talented 26-year-old, Lobera said, “The level of Indian players is the key to win trophies because finally you are playing with six players in the first XI and Bipin has done a very good, amazing season. But, when the team is working well, the individuals it’s possible to shine. It’s not only about one-two-three players.
“I think there are a lot of players doing a big effort during the whole season. Players with opportunities to play, players without opportunities to play but always smiling, always with a positive attitude. I am very happy because everyone deserves this trophy,” he mentioned.
Summarizing entire campaign
Sergio Lobera was asked to summarize the entire campaign. He reiterated the mounting challenges that they faced due to the COVID-19 related situation and the bio-secure bubble.
“Big challenge, big challenge from the beginning to the last day. We need to live in a bubble, very short pre-season, very short time between games. For everyone, not only for Mumbai City, for all teams and finally when you can win the trophy and you look back, you are very happy because of the big efforts everyone has done,” he explained.
Message to fans
The entire season of the ISL was played behind closed doors due to the ongoing pandemic. However, Lobera assured that the club is waiting to rejoice their remarkable achievements with the supporters at an appropriate time.
“I want to tell thank you (to the fans). Thank you so much. I hope as soon as possible to meet with them, celebrate together and get them the trophy.
“It’s difficult times around the world, it’s very painful don’t have here our supporters, our fans. But hopefully, as soon as possible it’s possible to celebrate the trophy and the big achievement this season went, with our fans,” the Spaniard exclaimed.
Does future get tougher from here?
Mumbai have set the bar of expectations very high with their incredible recruitment and the subsequent campaign. They will compete in the AFC Champions League next season and will be challenged with defending their titles domestically too. However, Sergio Lobera acknowledged that he is aware of the massive project that he has undertaken and will work towards attaining the future objectives.
“My players are very ambitious. The club is with a big project. I know as I told you before, the first meeting I had in Manchester, I felt that this is a big and amazing project. When you are in a big and amazing project, the future is great,” he quipped.
“I am very happy because the club deserve to enjoy this moment and hopefully in the future we can repeat this situation. It’s not easy, it’s not easy you know, in weeks win two trophies in the same season it’s not easy, but we need to try this.
“We had a big challenge before the start of the season. We want challenge. When you have a big challenge, it’s because you are in a great and amazing team with very good players, with very good squad. With City Football Group behind, when you have a big challenge it means you are working in an amazing place,” he concluded.