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Lobera confident about filling Zico’s big boots at FC Goa

10 November 2017ISL Media Team
Lobera confident about filling Zico’s big boots at FC Goa

Sergio Lobera has the unenviable task of replacing the legendary Zico as FC Goa’s new head coach ahead of the fourth edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). The Spanish coach replaces the Brazilian great and must ensure that Goa return to the summit of the table after a disastrous end to the last season, which saw them finish bottom with just four wins from 14 matches.

At 40, Lobera is the youngest coach in the Hero ISL which one can imagine makes his job more challenging. The Spaniard though isn’t fazed by Goa’s performances last season or his age for that matter and instead is confident in his ability to help the Gaurs script a new chapter after the end of Zico’s three-year reign.

“For me it is a pleasure to be able to substitute Zico. It’s not in any way a pressure of any kind. Instead it’s great motivation. Zico has been a great footballer, and in my eyes, he is a great coach too. He is also one of the big names in the football world. But in my opinion what’s most important is the club. Coaches change, but what is left in the end are the clubs, the fans and the people linked to the sport,” said Lobera.

The Gaurs have made a decent start to life under Lobera with some good results over the course of the pre-season. FC Goa travelled to Spain for training and won three of their five friendlies, including two convincing victories. Their style of play has also caught the eye, further raising expectations of the fans.

One of the interesting developments within the Goan ranks this season has been the change in their foreign players. Their squad composition has seen them not retain any of their foreign players from last season as well as a complete overhaul that’s seen them opt for mostly Spanish talents. Last season, Zico, opted to go with players from his own nationality and now Lobera appears to have done the same.

“We did a lot of research and had plenty of discussions before zeroing in on the names of all the team members. There is a particular style of football that I want to play and we chose players based on that philosophy and ideals in conjunction with the image that the club wanted to project this year. We chose to get some players who are familiar with the system and we also got some players who we feel have great potential to excel in this system,” said Sergio, who was among the coaching staff with the senior Barcelona team.

The players include Manuel Lanzarote, a former Barcelona reserves player, Moroccan midfielder Ahmed Jahouh, Copa Del Rey winner Ferran Corominas and fan favourite Bruno Pinheiro, who returns to the delight of the Gaurs faithful after an impressive spell in the inaugural season when the club lost in the semi-finals against eventual champions ATK.

Zico took Goa to the final the following year before last season’s disaster, and while Sergio doesn’t give any assurances, this Goa side exudes much more than just promise. If indeed, there’s an area of concern, it lies in the goalkeeping department with the club opting not to sign a foreign goalkeeper. With the safe hands of Laxmikant Kattimani, among the domestic players Goa retained, he can expect to start most games. However, considering the abundance of talent Lobera has at his disposal elsewhere, such minor worries will hopefully be overcome.

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