Lobera gears up for ‘special game’ against FC Goa

Mumbai City FC will be aiming for making a significant stride towards their first-ever Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) final appearance when they face FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday in the first leg of Semi-final 1 of the 2020-21 campaign. The Islanders won the League Winners Shield after topping the standings following a victory against ATK Mohun Bagan in the last game of the league stage and their head coach Sergio Lobera expects a ‘special game’ against his former team.

“It’s a special game because we are playing the semi-final with the option of winning the [Hero ISL] trophy after finishing top of the table, which was a big achievement for us. We need to be smart and ready to play 180 minutes. Tomorrow is the first step. We are working as always to try and focus on ourselves and improve. We are very excited and let’s enjoy the semi-finals,” Lobera said at the pre-match press conference.

The Islanders have faced the Gaurs twice this season, winning once and drawing the other but Lobera insisted that past results won’t have any bearing on the contest. “I think that’s in the past and won’t affect the future. Every game is different and it will be a different game when compared to a regular game in the league. The context in a semi-final is a very different context. Now it’s all or nothing over two games. I think the games will be different. It’s not a special motivation. Our motivation is to achieve our target,” he said.

The 44-year-old also touched on keeping his players motivated after their League Winners Shield triumph. “I think I am very lucky because I have very good players. They are very good persons and professionals. They know how important it is for us to play the semi-finals and win the [Hero ISL] trophy. They are ambitious people,” Lobera said.

“…It’s not good to have less motivation, you need to have a good level of motivation and my players are very excited to play this semi-final and hopefully if possible [reach the final] because everyone wants this situation. And for me as a coach, it’s easy to motivate the players. They are very ambitious and want to win,” he added.

The Spaniard then went on to admit that having Hugo Boumous back in the team after he served a four-match suspension will be a boost for Mumbai City FC. “Boumous is a very important player for us and our style of play. He can help us a lot in this moment. It was painful for us to have him suspended for four games… but we accept the rules and now we have the player and it’s important for us to use him for the semi-finals. Hopefully it’s possible in the final [as well],” Lobera said.

While discussing the pressure that accompanies a semi-final, Lobera said: “I don’t feel pressure. I am very happy with the big effort and good job done by my players in the Mumbai City FC family. Now let’s enjoy the semi-finals, hopefully it’s possible to win the [Hero ISL] trophy but I don’t feel pressure. I feel it’s a big challenge. When I arrived here, I knew this challenge and as I’ve said many times before, it’s good for us when you have big challenges because you are working in a very good team and very good squad. We achieved qualifying for the semi-finals a long time ago and now we need to enjoy ourselves, there’s no pressure on us.”

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