Lobera: Challenge for us is the Kerala team, not their fans

Having succumbed to their first defeat in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 in their last outing against Jamshedpur FC, FC Goa will be looking to bounce right back when they face off against Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday.

At the pre-match press conference, Goa head coach Sergio Lobera declared that his team isn’t dwelling on their last loss and said, “Our mentality is always positive. The last match is in the past and we need to focus on the future. Your focus always needs to be on the next match, which is against Kerala.”

Speaking about their opponents, the Spaniard praised Kerala’s recruitment for the season. “Kerala are a very good team. They have made a big effort to sign good players. For example, Bartholomew Ogbeche was the best player at NorthEast United FC last season and he signed for Kerala. Gianni Zuiverloon, similarly, was the best player for Delhi Dynamos FC. Sergio Cidoncha and Mario Arques were the best players in Jamshedpur last season. They have built a good team to try and win the league.”

Kerala, however, are winless in their last four matches. Providing his take on the matter, Lobera stated, “Now, the situation for them is difficult. Maybe they are feeling pressure. But for me, the most important thing is my team plays well and tries to get the three points.”

Asked if the prospect of playing in front of a very intimidating away crowd was a concern, the Spaniard brushed it away saying, “It’s amazing to play Kerala. I think every professional player will want to play every match – home or away – in this type of stadium and in this type of atmosphere. For us, it’s important to feel the motivation to play in these sort of circumstances. As a coach, I don’t think it makes things difficult for us or puts us under pressure. I want to play matches in front of full stadiums.”

“The challenge for us is to play against a very good team, we are not playing against the fans or atmosphere,” he added.

With Ahmed Jahouh, Seiminlen Doungel and Hugo Boumous ruled out due to suspension, the Gaurs will have to go about their business on Sunday without three crucial players. “I have a good squad, not good individuals. Obviously missing the players is difficult for us because I need to implement some things during the next match, which may not be possible with the players we have. It’s not only about the first XI. People often only think about the first XI but during the match you need some things. When you don’t have a full squad due to suspensions and injuries, it’s difficult to make changes in a match because of the lack of options,” the 42-year-old commented on the matter.

Read the Match Preview here.

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