The return of these tacticians to their former home grounds resulted in a number of interesting match-ups.
Sergio Lobera not only picked up his first win as Mumbai City FC boss in their gritty 0-1 win over FC Goa, but also achieved another interesting feat. He became the only coach in the Indian Super League (ISL) to actually win his first game back at the home turf of his former club.
Till now, quite a few coaches have managed multiple clubs in the ISL – but only Lobera has been able to come out victorious against his former side in their own den. That said, a number of ‘ex-coaches’ have played against their former employers in the league’s history and caused for interesting match-ups. Here we look at five times ISL coaches came back to face their former clubs.
5. Nelo Vingada
The former Portugal boss earned a name in the ISL for his work as the head coach of NorthEast United in the 2016 season. He did a pretty good job as their boss and almost helped them qualify for the playoffs, with the Highlanders missing out by only a point.
Vingada later left the post to manage the Malaysian national team, but came back to the ISL in 2019 with Kerala Blasters. While his time as their coach was uneventful, the Portuguese got to face the Highlanders in their final game of the season – one which ended up being a dull 0-0 draw.
4. Eelco Schattorie
Eelco Schattorie did a brilliant job at NorthEast United in the 2018-19 season, when he built up a strong squad and inspired them to finish in the playoffs spot. His impressive work attracted attention from Kerala Blasters, who roped him in to be their head coach in the 2019-20 season.
Of course, the campaign was an extremely topsy-turvy one and ended in disappointment for Kerala. Schattorie, however, didn’t lose to his former side at least. In February of this year, he returned to NorthEast to face his former team in their own yard. It ended up being a frustrating goalless draw, but Schattorie saved himself the embarrassment of losing to his former employers.
3. Antonio Habas
While Antonio Habas has always been hailed as the backbone of ATK’s success in the ISL, he also did have one (rather forgettable) stint as the head coach of FC Pune City in the 2016 season. He failed to replicate his title-winning heroics with the Stallions, managing to only finish sixth with them in the campaign.
However, he remained unbeaten against his former side and after defeating them 2-1 in Pune, returned to Kolkata looking to do the double. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get the win at his former home ground, only managing a 0-0 draw at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium. Since then, Habas returned to Kolkata and managed to win the title with ATK last season as well.
2. Steve Coppell
Steve Coppell earned plaudits for leading Jamshedpur FC to a decent debut campaign in the ISL, where they barely missed out on a playoffs spot. For that, he was hired by ATK in the 2018-19 campaign as they looked to change their philosophy to a more ‘English’ style of playing football. The end result, however, was frustrating as the Kolkata giants were ravaged by inconsistency and only managed a sixth place finish after a poor season.
Coppell returned to ‘The Furnace’ with the desperate need to win in order to close in on a top four spot. However, he could only manage a 1-1 draw at his former home ground, despite ATK being the better side on the day. While Coppell did win the reverse game at the Salt Lake Stadium, he must’ve been frustrated at not being able to defeat his former side in their own yard.
1. Sergio Lobera
Sergio Lobera left FC Goa on quite bad terms, after having fallen out with the management on a few important decisions. He joined Mumbai City FC and ‘stole away’ their biggest players for this campaign. The Spaniard faced the Gaurs in his second game as Mumbai’s head coach.
Despite being second-best for the majority of the game, Lobera somehow managed to ensure his side limped their way to a 0-1 win against a 10-man Goa. Adam le Fondre’s late penalty sealed the win for the Islanders, helping the Spaniard manage the historic feat of being the only coach in the ISL to have won his first game back at his former side.