Lobera: Cannot think of the final because we are not there yet
Hoping to seal their spot in the final of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19, FC Goa host Mumbai City FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Tuesday. The Gaurs come into the fixture on the back of a dominating 5-1 victory over the Islanders in the first leg and are the overwhelming favourites to progress to the final on March 17. However, the Gaurs still cannot afford to take things for granted and will need to take care of business on Tuesday.
At the pre-match presser, Goa head coach Sergio Lobera spoke about the importance of keeping themselves grounded. "I approach this game with a lot of respect because we are facing a great team. I don’t see us in the final yet, so we have to be at our 100 %," he said.
Goa have won all three of their encounters against Mumbai this season, firing in twelve goals in the process. Talking about their impressive head-to-head record against the Islanders, Lobera mentioned, "I think what we have achieved in the past is going to help us tomorrow. But we have to keep working on the same path and also try to win our last game at home."
Asked if he would be tempted to rest a couple of key players on Tuesday considering their four-goal cushion, Lobera said, "I am going to play a team that I consider to be the best one to win the game. I cannot think of the final because we are not there yet."
Naveen Kumar, who has come into the starting XI for the injured Mohammad Nawaz, put on some dazzling displays of late and was particularly impressive in the first leg last Saturday. Asked about his preferred goalkeeper, Lobera said, "I think, as a coach, the best problem you can have is to decide between good players. I have two great goalkeepers. Nawaz had to be out of the team because of an injury. Now both keepers are ready to get into the squad."
In the first leg, the Gaurs fell behind as early as the 20th minute but rallied to secure a 5-1 victory. Incidentally, it was the first time this season that the team won a match after conceding first. Commenting on the fighting spirit showcased by the team in the first leg, Lobera said, "We knew that the semi-finals are a completely different story to the league match. Throughout the tie, the team goes through good and bad moments. The most important thing is to keep playing as a team throughout the 180 minutes. I am very happy with the reaction and with the way the team got the game going."
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