Sergio Lobera Rodriguez replaces Zico as FC Goa’s new head coach

Sergio Lobera Rodriguez replaces Zico as FC Goa’s new head coach

FC Goa on Monday confirmed the appointment of Sergio Lobera Rodriguez as their new head coach. Ahead of the fourth edition of the Hero Indian Super League, the 40-year-old signed a two-year deal with the Gaurs and will be taking over the reins from Brazilian icon Zico, who led Goa to semi-final, runners-up and bottom-placed finishes in the first three editions of the league.

“I’m delighted to join FC Goa and play my part in a very exciting vision. I see FC Goa as the ideal step in my career and hope to achieve the best results for the club. The passion for football in Goa is well documented and I’m keen to ensure that we play an attacking brand of football that the people of Goa can be proud of,” said Rodriguez.

The Spaniard, who has previously worked with the likes of Sergio Busquets, Bojan Krkic, Jonathan Dos Santos, Jordi Alba and Oriol Romeu at the La Masia, was also impressed with the club and its facilities. “The owners are keen to ensure that Goan football does not take a backseat in the exciting future of Indian football and having had a chance to visit Goa and observe the facilities and the infrastructure from close quarters, I’m convinced that the club is ideally placed to compete in not just the ISL but across the youth level as well,” said Rodriguez.

Born in Zaragoza, Rodriguez signed for FC Barcelona as part of their coaching staff after impressing with Dosa Salesians and UFB Jàbac Terrassa. His time with Barcelona’s famed youth academy saw him guide Barcelona’s Alevin A side to an unbeaten run for two consecutive seasons in the Futbol 7 Preferente league. He was then named manager of Barcelona’s C-team in the 2006–07 season in the Tercera División before being appointed as director of sports at Terrassa FC in June 2007, where he also donned the role of manager for the final seven games of the campaign.

His next assignment saw him become the manager of CD San Roque de Lepe in May 2010. Rodriguez ended his brief tenure with San Roque the following season, opting to take over the top job at Spanish Segunda B outfit AD Ceuta. He returned to Barcelona in 2012 when he was named assistant manager to the late Tito Vilanova. However, his time with the Catalan giants this time around was short-lived as he signed on as head coach of Segunda División side UD Las Palmas a month later.

Rodriguez finished his first season with Las Palmas in sixth position, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Spanish top-flight against UD Almeria in the play-offs. His last coaching assignment was in Morocco, where he coached Moghreb Atlético Tetuán in the Botola – the Moroccan Championship.

Gaurs president Akshay Tandon expressed his delight after roping in Rodriguez, who he believes fits in seamlessly with the philosophy of the club. “We have always maintained that we are looking for a coach who will be able to help us achieve our vision for Goan football and Sergio fits that profile perfectly. We are excited by the ambition he has shown and his enthusiasm in getting to grips with the Indian game. Sergio comes with a proven track record of promoting young talent. And with the club orienting itself towards the same goal as well, Sergio was the obvious candidate,” he said.

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