Lobera: Indian players are the present and future of my team
Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 finalists, FC Goa will aim to continue their solid start to the current campaign when they go up against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Friday. With four points from two matches, the Gaurs are in a good position and could go top of the standings if they manage to come away with three points from Guwahati.
Speaking ahead of the fixture at the pre-match press conference, the Goa head coach, Sergio Lobera asserted that his team’s performance in their first match was much better compared to their showing in the second against Bengaluru FC. “I am very happy with our first match against Chennaiyin because I think the team played very well in different circumstances. Only three foreign players, some players injured, but I’m very proud of my players. The second match I think was not a good match for us.”
“We suffered a lot against Bengaluru. In the first half, we didn’t have the ball or kept the possession. For us, this way is not good. But to get one point, I think is good for us because of the circumstances of the match. Every game is different. I think the (NorthEast United fixture) is going to be a very difficult match against a very good team. They have very experienced players and I think it is going to be a difficult match for us.”
The 42-year-old then spoke of his satisfaction with the level of Indian players at his disposal. “I think it’s very important for us (to have Indian players of a good level in the team). I am very happy with my Indian players. This is the third season I’m working with some Indian players. We only signed two new Indian players. I think, they are not only the future but also the present. I think the level of the Indian players is very good.”
“I am very proud of my team. It’s possible for foreign players to help improve the level of the team and the level of the Indian players. I am very happy with the level of Indian players and it’s not necessary to find excuses about the loss through suspension or injuries of foreign players. The level of the team is good.”
The Spaniard was also particularly pleased with the performances of Seiminlen Doungel, who will be going up against his former side in NorthEast. “I think Len is a very good player. We signed him because in our style, the profile of Len is very good. It’s possible for him to play in different positions. He’s a very competitive player and technically, he is good.”
“Sometimes when you play against your ex team, there is extra motivation. And sometimes, it’s not good. The most important thing for me is Len and all my players to understand that the team comes first and is the most important thing. It’s not possible to win one match in this competition only with individuality. Len can help us a lot during the season and not only this match.”
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz who had accompanied Lobera at the media briefing, shared how it felt to be the only teenager to have retained his place in any Hero ISL side this season. “I feel good to play with many big names, big players. For me, it’s kind of a special thing. I can experience a lot. Last season was a good experience. I learned many things from many big goalkeepers, playing against them and playing with seniors of my team. I am still learning and I hope to keep my best in the coming matches as well.
The 19-year-old also revealed that he has been comfortable playing with the ball at his feet from a very young age. “I didn’t put extra hours into (being comfortable with the ball at my feet) because when I started playing, I started with my feet as well. My coaches asked me to use my feet as well. When I started growing, I already started using my feet. It’s a habit from childhood that I’m using. I don’t work extra hours (for it).”
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