The Spaniard spoke after his side’s dramatic win that set them up a date in the final.
Mumbai City FC coach Sergio Lobera had the last laugh as his side ousted FC Goa, his former employers, in a penalty shootout after the sides went tied on the day and on aggregate.
Both goalkeepers showed great resolve in keeping the other team’s shots at bay. But it was Rowllin Borges who kept his nerve to send the Islanders through to their first-ever Indian Super League final.
Feeling of victory
Sergio Lobera expressed his pleasure at his side having made it past the stubborn Gaurs. Speaking after his side made their inaugural finals appearance he replied, “I’m very happy because the players have put in a big effort. It isn’t easy to play 90 minutes and then extra time and then go to penalties. These players deserve to play the final. I have a very good squad and I had amazing people in the dressing room and I’m very happy.”
Physical and mental strain
By no means was the going easy for the Islanders as they had to labour on for 120 minutes before it eventually came to fruition. The Spaniard acknowledged the physical and mental strain that the game took on his players. “It is not easy to play 120 minutes, but you have to be strong because it is a long time. Good things and bad things can happen. You have to play according to the situation and today, my players had a very strong and positive mentality. In the end, it was possible for us to win the game.”
Respect for FC Goa
Despite the acrimonious circumstances in which he departed Goa, Sergio Lobera reserved respect for his adversaries on the day. He said, “I think they played really well. I wish them the best in the AFC (Champions League). It was a very equal game and today they could’ve won, we could’ve won so it didn’t really matter. But for us, I’m really happy that we won.”
Having won the League-Winners’ Shield and thereby making it to the group stage of the ACL, Sergio Lobera insisted on the extra pressure that comes with the playoffs having been part of the same during his time with FC Goa. Speaking of the difference in mentality that the playoffs bring, he replied, “Obviously (on the playoffs being a different ball game), I think it doesn’t matter who won because here you play for all or nothing. In the season, you play for either one point or three. But here, it is all or nothing and you need to be strong mentally. So I’m happy that my boys showed it today.”
Preparations for the final
Mumbai now await the winner of the second semi-final between NorthEast United and defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan. But the Spaniard deemed it irrelevant when asked of his preferred opponent. “I think ATK Mohun Bagan have had an amazing season, they would be very difficult.”
“I would congratulate NorthEast United too because of their coach (Khalid Jamil) who has proven that Indian coaches can be good in the league, which is great. But for me, it is important that we are in the final, whether it is NorthEast or ATK, that is not important,” said Sergio Lobera before signing off for the night.