The tactician stressed on the importance of maintaining a balance between attack and defence.

Mumbai City FC will face their head coach Sergio Lobera’s former employers FC Goa at the GMC Stadium on Monday. The Islanders had claimed the three points in the earlier face-off between the two sides in November. They will be eager to hold on to top spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) standings, whereas the Gaurs will be seeking their first victory after four successive draws. Sergio Lobera along with midfielder Rowllin Borges addressed the media ahead of this crucial encounter.

Facing his previous club

Sergio Lobera had really turned a chapter for FC Goa in his almost three-year-long stint with the coastal club. Naturally, he looks back fondly at those times, but maintains that the focus is on ensuring that Mumbai secure the coveted three points in Monday’s match.

“I am very proud of the job that we did in the past in FC Goa. I am very proud about this because we arrived at this club when they finished bottom of the table and we played playoffs three years in a row. We win the last season top of the table and I am very proud of the work we did. Tomorrow, we know the situation. We are playing against a very good team. Obviously, they are playing under pressure because they need to reach the playoffs and there are now more teams competing for this target,” Lobera explained.

He added, “But, the most important thing as always is my team. We are working thinking in ourselves, to improve some things. The most important thing for me as a coach is if my team play 100%. I am very confident and I am positive to get the three points tomorrow.”

Lack of goals in recent matches

The Islanders scored an impressive 17 goals in their first 10 matches. However, that form has tapered off a bit as they have netted only five times in their last five games. Lobera was probed whether this factor concerns him going ahead in the campaign. The coach instead pointed to his team’s incredible goal difference (+14) to play down any fears.  

“No, I think the most important thing is balance. You know, I like to play attacking football and I like to score goals. I will be concerned if we don’t have many chances. This is the most important thing for me as a coach, to create, generate chances to score goals because if this situation happens, I am sure we will score more goals,” Sergio Lobera reflected.

He further mentioned, “But, balance is very good for us. The goal-difference is the most important thing and you can check in the table what the situation about these numbers is. I am very happy because we are working well in attack and we are working well in defence also.”

Availability of squad

Mumbai have had to deal with quite a few suspensions in recent matches. Previously, Ahmed Jahouh had missed the crucial matches against FC Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan due to the same reason. However, they have a full-strength squad for the match against the Gaurs.

“Always, it’s important as a coach to have full squad available because you have more options to decide. It’s a good news for me and I think it’s going to be a difficult game, a tough game. You know the situation, there are no easy games in this competition. Maybe, there are favourites to win the league, but in single game there are no favourites because every game is difficult, every game is tough and I think tomorrow is not different situation,” Lobera spoke about the same.

Significance of match

Sergio Lobera brought along his coaching staff and a host of instrumental players from FC Goa to Mumbai City. He clarified that the upcoming encounter is going to be quite significant for all the individuals who were formerly involved with the Gaurs.  

“It’s always a special game when you are playing your former team and you worked there for three years. You are playing against players you had as a coach before. You are playing a club that you worked before. It’s always special. It’s special in terms of my feelings, but in terms of results, in terms of tomorrow there are three points on play and we need to try to get these three points. I think it’s not only special for me, but there are also some players, some members of staff who worked before for FC Goa and this is a special game for us,” the Spaniard opened up.

Rowllin Borges’ comments

Rowllin Borges seemed delighted with the prospect of working with Jahouh. He heaped praise on the Moroccan midfielder and even claimed that the attacking aspect of his game has improved under Lobera’s tutelage. “If you ask me, before I came to know that he signed, before, I was his big fan and now still I am.

“Playing with him, learning a lot from him is a dream for me. The way he does things with ease, it’s really enjoyable to watch. I just try to learn and take so many things from him as the season progresses. I want to learn and improve playing under him, with him and to learn a lot from him in this coming season,” Borges said.