The Mumbai City FC head coach also felt that the Red & Gold Brigade have improved since the last time they met.

Mumbai City FC secured a narrow 1-0 victory against SC East Bengal to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 matches this season. However, to many surprises, the Kolkata-outfit had superior possession against the Islanders on Friday night, which is quite a rare occurrence in the Indian Super League. The Red & Gold Brigade pushed Mumbai to the edge in the second half. However, Mourtada Fall’s stunning header in the 27th minute coupled with his solid defensive effort saved the day for Mumbai City. Following the game, Sergio Lobera was seemingly unpleased with his team’s performance as he addressed in the post-match press conference.

Toughest game this season?

Rarely have teams dominated Mumbai City FC in this season like East Bengal did in the second half of the game. Sergio Lobera admitted the fact as he responded to whether this was his team’s toughest game in the ongoing campaign.

“Maybe, I think when you can see the stats, we lose the possession of the ball. It’s difficult for us when we are playing in this way. I think we need to improve, especially in the second half,” he began.

“We were lucky about the result during the second half. Because, they played very well. We played against a team with seven games in a row unbeaten. Maybe, in the first half we had chances to score the second goal and everything changed with the situation. But, this situation – (I am) not happy,” he continued.

On SC East Bengal’s improvement

The Islanders defeated Fowler’s team with considerable ease when the two teams met in December last year. However, it was not the case on Friday night as Sergio Lobera commented on his opponent’s much-developed look.

“Obviously. They (SC East Bengal) have improved a lot, they have new players. They are a very competitive team. The results spoke about this. Seven games in a row unbeaten and they played very well. It’s not possible to compare this team in the first part of the season to the second part of the season,” the Spaniard remarked.

Further thoughts on the game

Sergio Lobera claimed that the Islanders were compelled to play in a style that his team isn’t comfortable in. He accepted that they are trained to dominate possession and operate in the opponent’s half for the majority of the game.

“Sometimes it’s not possible to play where you want to play. The opponent team is playing and sometimes for you to play in another way,” he quipped.

“During the second half, we suffered a lot because our team is built to keep the possession, to have the ball. We lost the possession of the ball and obviously we played practically in our half. This is not the best for us. We want to win more games, we need to improve in this situation and we need to work about this,” the tactician added.

Mourtada Fall’s all-round show

It was Mourtada Fall who made all the difference against SC East Bengal on Friday night. His set-piece prowess along with a commendable defensive resolve helped the Islanders to clinch the win.

“I think the balance of the team is the most important thing. It’s not about one player. It’s not possible to win, or you are unbeaten for 11 games with the performance of only two-three players. The collective job is the most important thing for me as a coach. I am very happy with Mourtada Fall and all my squad,” Sergio Lobera expressed.

Rationale behind pushing the full-backs ahead on the flanks

Amey Ranawade and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy started as the full-backs for the Islanders against SC East Bengal. They were constantly venturing in the opponent’s half, assisting the midfielders and the forwards to maintain possession of the ball. Sergio Lobera mentioned that his teams follow this approach regularly as he explained, “Always, my fullbacks play high. Because, we want to keep the possession of the ball.”

“We want to generate, to keep superiority with the fullbacks. But, in the second half today was not possible because we need to defend a lot of time. It’s difficult for us to arrive in the other half. But, it’s not the problem of the fullbacks. It’s about the collective job,” he asserted.

On Rowllin Borges

Rowllin Borges has been a constant presence in the midfield for Mumbai City FC in this season. He shields the defensive line, wins the ball back often and distributes it well to the flanks. Speaking about him, the Spanish tactician praised the India international for bringing a delicate balance into the playing XI.

“He is a balance for us. I think Borges, you know, is an amazing player like a lot of players we have; like the full squad. But, Borges is very important for us. Because, it’s not only about going we have the possession of the ball. It’s about when we don’t have the possession of the ball. He played very well to give us the balance that we need in the second half,” he concluded.

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