The Islanders’ head coach spoke to the media ahead of the team’s ISL 2020-21 semi-final second leg clash against FC Goa.

Mumbai City FC will take on FC Goa in the second-leg of their semifinal encounter at the Fatorda Stadium on Monday. The tie is evenly poised as both the teams scored twice in the first-leg. With no away goals rules in place, the two sides have all to play for in the coming match. Meanwhile, the Islanders’ head coach Sergio Lobera addressed the pre-match press conference along with skipper Amrinder Singh on Sunday.

Lobera spoke extensively on defender Mourtada Fall’s controversial tackle on Princeton Rebello towards the end of the last game. Here are the excerpts from the media interaction.

Thoughts on the last game

Mumbai headed into the first-leg as the firm favourites to take a sizable lead in the contest. However, the Gaurs put up a strong fight and restricted the Islanders from running away with the match. Lobera had rued his side’s lack of control over the proceedings on Friday and he further elaborated on the same on Sunday too.

“No, I am not happy because there are two things that were important for me in the last game. First of all, we had chances to score more goals and we need to be more clinical in such situations. Secondly, I think the game was very open. We didn’t have control of the game during some periods in the game and gave them the opportunity to play between lines, with spaces and I think we need to improve on this,” the head coach said.

Why did Mumbai fail to exert influence unlike previous contests vs FCG?

Mumbai were always in control in their two league matches vs the Gaurs. However, as stated earlier, Juan Ferrando’s men were equally dominant in the first-leg. Lobera attributed their slightly undermining performance due to the team combination owing to injuries and suspension concerns.  

Opening up on the same, he claimed, “I don’t like to cry because I think it’s not good. We also have injuries, we also have suspensions, we also have players playing out of position. I didn’t speak about this all the way, explaining my problems for everyone.”

The Spaniard added, “Obviously, when you are playing with not the full squad and are using some players in some position it would be because the two right-backs can’t play, one player is on suspension, one player is not fully fit, and so on. All of that maybe affected our performance. Hopefully, in the second leg we have the full squad, we have all the players available and we can improve in this situation.”

On Mourtada Fall’s controversial tackle

Senegalese centre-back Mourtada Fall had felled Rebello and was shown a yellow-card towards the end of the last game. However, FC Goa have appealed to the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) disciplinary committee to initiate action against Fall keeping in mind the “safety and well-being of players on the field.” Lobera was asked to comment on the whole issue and the Spaniard totally took down the critics in his descriptive response.

“Those people are speaking about Fall, saying that he had bad intentions in this tackle are the people who don’t know him. Because Fall is a big person, big player, a very good professional,” the 44-year-old began.

Sergio Lobera added, “There are no bad intentions about this situation, I am sure 100 per cent. I don’t like when people speak or try to provoke bad words against my player. Because, this player is playing here during long time. Everyone it’s possible to know how is Mourtada Fall. I don’t like when people try to provoke bad words against my players.”

Drawing parallels from other incidents, the tactician remarked, “If you want to compare, it’s possible to compare his action with one player – Edu Bedia who is playing now. Nobody is speaking about this situation, if you want to compare situations it’s possible to compare. I had (Hugo) Boumous who was out for four games with suspensions on the stands. Meanwhile, it is possible for everyone to watch on TV as to how some people spoke to the match commissioner, the referee at the end of the last game.”

He added, “If we want to compare, we can compare a lot of things. But, I never speak about the referees and some people speak about the referees when they want. Because, maybe when the referee did not see Jamshedpur’s goal and later FC Goa scored, nobody speaks about this. But I prefer to put the focus on myself. I answer out of respect to your question. But I don’t like the people is crying every time, every time.”

Stressing to focus solely on the game, Sergio Lobera mentioned, “I want to play football. Every team has a lot of problems in this season with very special circumstances. I don’t like people speaking bad against my players, a player like Mourtada Fall. For example, when he score the goal, you can watch the reaction, when he scored the goal and apologized to his former team. I don’t like this situation.”

“We need to play football on the pitch, and respect all the people and try to help the people doing a hard and difficult job, the match commissioner and the referees and people on the league. I don’t like when some people try to use one action against my player. The image shown my player it’s possible have damaged and I cannot allow this because it’s not true,” he additionally quipped.

Amrinder Singh on facing FC Goa

Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh maintained that the team shouldn’t not deter from their ideology despite the fact that Ferrando’s team follows a similar approach. “I think tomorrow’s game, both the teams have a similar style of playing. I think it’s important to stay loyal to our playing style when both teams have the same approach. The more loyal we stay, the more chances we will have in the game and this is the most important factor for me,” Singh said.

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