Former Hero Indian Super League (ISL) League Shield and title-winning head coach Sergio Lobera revealed that sharing similar ambitions with the club was the biggest reason behind his decision to sign for Odisha FC.

Hero Super Cup champions Odisha FC appointed Lobera as their new head coach earlier in May, with the Spaniard putting pen to paper on a two-year contract. This is set to be Lobera’s third stint in Indian football, having previously worked with FC Goa and Mumbai City FC.

“I'm very excited and happy to be a part of this family. Also, I want to thank the management for their trust in me. Maybe it's the biggest challenge in my career, but I am very excited to achieve something important in this amazing club,” Lobera said in an interview with Odisha FC.

Odisha FC had a memorable campaign during the 2022-23 season. They reached the Hero ISL playoffs for the first time in history, followed by winning their first silverware during the Hero Super Cup. The Kalinga Warriors ensured a strong end to the season by beating Gokulam Kerala FC in the Hero Club Playoffs, also sealing a berth in the AFC Cup 2023-24 group stage.

Lobera revealed that Odisha FC’s recent success and their ambitions for the future influenced his decision to join Odisha FC after holding talks with the club management.

“I think that a club is doing things very well. You have a very good example. The club won the Hero Super Cup last season and we are going to compete in Asia (in the AFC Cup 2023-24). When I had the meeting with Rohan (Sharma), Abhik (Chatterjee) and Raj (Athwal) when I spoke with them, I felt this is the club that I want to work with because I feel they are doing things very well. They are very clear with me and they have the same ambitions that I have. This was the main reason I decided to come to Odisha FC,” Lobera revealed.

Lobera is no stranger to success in Indian football, having cemented his reputation among the best head coaches in the Hero ISL during his time with FC Goa and Mumbai City FC. During his three seasons at FC Goa, he led the Gaurs to three straight playoff finishes in the Hero ISL besides winning the League Shield and the Hero Super Cup.

He joined Mumbai City FC in 2020 and went on to make history in his debut season with the Islanders as MCFC became the first club to achieve the Hero ISL double.

“Obviously, as a head coach, we need to win. We need to be clear about this. My ambition is to try to win as much as possible. Sometimes when you are in a new project, with new people you need time to do this. But my ambition in a short time is to build a winning team to try to compete the best possible way in different competitions we have next season. It’s a new challenge and it’s going to be an exciting season playing three competitions at the same time,” Lobera stated.

The 40-year-old will look to replicate the success he achieved with his previous clubs at Odisha FC, but has a big challenge in hand as he takes over a new squad. Lobera made his objective clear of winning trophies at Odisha FC while building the club for the future.

“We don't need to have excuses. We need to prepare the team well for these competitions. I am very ambitious. I am coming back to India because I think we can get success together with Odisha FC. And this is a short time. It's very easy for me as a head coach to tell you I need more get success,” he explained.

“Obviously we need time. We are working with new people but we need to to build a future project with the club. And at the same time we need to win in a professional way. Everyone who was working at the club wants to win,” he further added.

Odisha FC have wasted no time in the summer transfer window, having made two big-name signings in the form of Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh, with the duo previously having won titles under Lobera at FC Goa and Mumbai City FC respectively. However, Lobera highlighted the importance of having a strong squad over key individual players to acquire success.

“I know Mourtada and Jahouh. They are amazing players. They know what I want as a coach. We have worked before for a long time in Morocco and India, but Fall and Jahouh are not more important than Carlos (Delgado) or Diego Mauricio and other players we have in the club. The most important thing is the global perspective and the players understanding what is my idea for the team. Not only with some players. Obviously, it's helpful for me to have some players who have worked with me before because it’s easy to implement my style of play, my ideas and my philosophy,” Lobera explained.

He added: “But all of the players are important for me. It’s impossible to win trophies or the league with even good players. We need a good squad and staff. You need to have good people around you in specific areas and I am very happy with the team we are building. We need to sign some players but we are working hard with the management to get the best players possible within our budget and our objectives.”

Watch the full interview here: