FC Goa and Sergio Lobera part ways

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) side FC Goa, on Saturday, announced that the club has parted ways with head coach Sergio Lobera. The Hero ISL 2018-19 finalists are yet to name a replacement for the Spaniard. Lobera’s assistants Jesus Tato and Manuel Sayabera will be also leaving the club.

Lobera joined the Gaurs leading into the Hero ISL 2017-18 season, taking over the reins from Brazilian legend Zico. Coming in with the pedigree of having worked with the likes Sergio Busquets, Bojan Krkic, Jonathan Dos Santos, Jordi Alba and Oriol Romeu at the La Masia, the Spaniard took little time to inculcate his possession-based attacking philosophy into the very DNA of the Goa side and enjoyed a productive debut campaign, guiding the team to the semi-finals before being knocked out by eventual champions Chennaiyin FC.

Hero ISL 2018-19 saw Lobera do one better as Goa reached the final before eventually losing out on the title in extra time. His first silverware, however, soon followed as Lobera guided the Gaurs to the trophy in the Hero Super Cup 2019 later in that season. Under his guidance, Goa also made a terrific start to the 2019-20 campaign, currently occupying the top spot with 30 points from 15 matches.

In the 56 Hero ISL matches Goa played in the Lobera era, the Gaurs won 29, drew 11 and lost 16. The phase also saw the team score over 110 goals - a glowing testimony to his attacking philosophy. Besides being a shrewd tactician, Lobera has also proven himself as a terrific mentor to young players, with the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Seriton Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues and Manvir Singh being prime examples.

His knack of developing Indian players has left a big mark on the Indian football team as well with FC Goa becoming a major source of talent for the national team over the last year or so, with multiple players breaking into the Blue Tigers squad. “Apart from choosing good foreigners and playing a very different brand of football, Sergio Lobera is doing a great job in developing young Indian players. His trust and belief in the likes of Manvir Singh, Seriton Fernandes, and others has been very productive for the club and the national team as well,” India head coach Igor Stimac had acknowledged in a recent interview.

The Spaniard leaves behind a legacy of exquisite attacking football, which transformed Goa into one of the most entertaining sides, not only in the Hero ISL but in Indian football history.

FC Goa President Akshay Tandon, in a statement released by the club, said, “I wish to thank Sergio and his team on behalf of everyone involved at the club for the work they’ve put in over the past few seasons. Our objectives when Sergio came in were to instil a style of football and build a platform on which we would move forward as a club and we managed to achieve that consistently.”

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