ISL: For Mumbai City FC coach Sergio Lobera, it's Mission India this time

The Spaniard, known for his penchant for attacking football, wants foreigners in his team help lift the standard of Indian players.

By Naveen Peter ·

Though he’s loaded his team with many proven foreign talents, Mumbai City FC head coach Sergio Lobera has underlined ‘improving the level of Indian players’ as one of the objectives for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season.

Speaking at a virtual press conference on Tuesday, the Spaniard hoped that the international players recruited by the team will help him in his Mission India pursuit.

“We need to work in all the directions. We have some really good players who have had amazing careers and can help in our objective. But the most important thing is to increase the level of Indian football players,” he said. 

“For me, as a coach, I need the help of foreign players. It’s not easy to play in India. You need to adapt quickly. I believe that foreign players will play a huge role in helping us raise the level of the Indians here. 

“It’s impossible to win a trophy when your Indian players are not good. And it’s impossible to improve the Indians when the foreigners don’t understand the way they need to work and help improve the confidence and the skills of the Indian players. As a coach, I need to ensure the foreign players are effective both on and off the field.”

Sergio Lobera will bank on his foreign recruits to help improve the team’s quality this season. Photo: MCFC media

Mumbai City FC, in the past, has had some big-name players like Nicolas Anelka, Sunil Chhetri and Diego Forlan in their side. But despite the stars, the team has been unable to reach the ISL final in any of the six editions so far. 

The Spaniard, however, was not weighed down by the team’s history in the ISL.

“I think you can’t let your past affect what you want to do now. The only thing that will affect your future is what you do now, in the present,” said Lobera, who was appointed as the Mumbai City FC head coach this season.

“When I accepted the challenge, I knew what I was getting myself into. The players know where they are. We know the challenge that we have at hand. And we plan to work towards it.” 

Lobera to stick to his brand of football

Known for his entertaining brand of football, Sergio Lobera has often come under criticism for not working on his defence enough. 

Some believe that it was a porous defence that cost FC Goa, his previous team, the ISL title last season despite Goa scoring the highest number of goals -  51 in 21 games. Lobera, however, chose not to look much into it.

“My style of football will remain the same,” he said. “I believe in my philosophy and I believe in my style of play. We need to enjoy during the 90 minutes and I feel it is very important to play attacking football. 

“Also, we need a balance between attack and defence. It is very important to have a style of play and how we win is very important to me. For me, the most important thing is to win games and win beautifully.”

Mumbai City FC begin their ISL 2020-21 campaign against NorthEast United on November 21.