Lobera: Team, not individual stars, makes Goa tick
FC Goa, over the last couple of seasons, have been one of the most consistent sides in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and boast some of the most successful individual stars in the league's all-time highest scorer Ferran Corominas, midfield maestro Ahmed Jahouh and ace attacking midfielder Edu Bedia. The Gaurs' head coach Sergio Lobera, however, feels that it's the team which makes the stars in the team special and not the other way around.
In a recent interview, the 42-year-Spaniard, who has been at the helm of FC Goa for the last two seasons, said, "Coro is possibly the best striker in the league and is the Hero ISL's highest scorer. Edu and Jahouh, too, are great players. But for me, the most important thing is the team. Without a good team, in difficult situations, it is not the same even with great individual players. I think the team gets the best out of Coro, Jahouh and the others."
Competition will be very hard this season
The Hero ISL 2018-19 finalists faltered at the last hurdle last season and will be looking to do one better this time around - a feat Lobera thinks will be a difficult task considering the way other teams have strengthened since last term. "Honestly, it will be very difficult to improve upon our performances from last season. What's needed to improve from last season is to win the title. The opposition teams have signed very good players and improved a lot. For us, last season was very good. This year, I think, the competition will be very hard. But the players and I are very excited for Hero ISL 2019-20. We will try our best to win the title, if possible, but the most important thing is fans enjoy the way FC Goa play," he remarked.
Speaking about his own squad, Lobera hinted that he was happy that most of his core squad from last season has been retained, but also exercised caution considering Goa will be going into the season with one less foreign player compared to the maximum allowed number of seven. "I think it's good that the club decided to keep the players from last season. Most teams will go into the season with seven foreign players but Goa will play with six. So, other teams may have a slight advantage over us. But as a coach, the most important thing is to do well and we have a very good team," he said.
Adding a bit about this season's recruits, Lobera name-dropped former Kerala Blasters attacker Seiminlen Doungel and young defender Aiban Dohling, stating, "Seiminlen is a very good player and can play in different positions. I think it's possible to improve the team with him in the squad. Aiban is also very good and can be the one for the future."
The Gaurs' first test in the upcoming Hero ISL 2019-20 campaign will be at home against two-time champions Chennaiyin FC. Chennaiyin finished bottom of the table last season but Lobera reiterated that taking them lightly this season could prove disastrous. "I think it will be very difficult because Chennaiyin head coach, John Gregory, knows exactly what he wants from his players. They are a very good defensive unit and with the new players like Lucian Goian and others, they are stronger. They are a very good candidate to win the league this season," he concluded.