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ISL 2017/18: "Will continue to play our brand of football", says Sergio Lobera

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653   //    12 Mar 2018, 21:16 IST

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FC Goa has been in fine form this season

FC Goa are looking to make it to a second ISL final and standing in their way are Chennaiyin FC. The two teams meet for the second leg of their semifinal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday evening, after the first leg in Goa finished 1-1.

Away goals come into play in this year's competition. As a result, Chennaiyin can go through even with a 0-0 result. If it finishes 1-1, we will see penalties. If it's a scoring draw higher than 1-1, Goa will go through.

Despite the many permutations possible, Goa head coach Sergio Lobera is very clear about how his side will play.

“We are the top goalscorers in the league. We have the highest goalscorer of the league as well”, It is also true that our style of play has risks involved and we end up shipping goals, but if we can win the match 3-2 I will be happy. We achieved that last time around in Chennai.”

That, of course, was the very first game of the season for both sides, in which Chennaiyin were down 3-0 at half-time, but fought back in the second to narrow the deficit. Their two leading goalscorers, Coro and Manuel Lanzarote were on the scoresheet then and, have contributed over 70% of their goals.

Lobera though feels, in the end, the work has to be done as a team:

“We have 10 players who have scored for us, and two have scored majority of our goals. But in the end, scoring or conceding is the work of the team not an individual. It is true tha Lanza and Coro are decisive players but, for them to do that, they need a strong team and system functioning behind them. I don't think Lanza and Coro would have scored so many goals if they played in another team or another system.”

Lobera pointed to their final league game against Jamshedpur FC as an example of how Goa's approach will not waiver irrespective of the situation.

"In the first game, Naveen and Hugo were not available. They are available tomorrow. Now, in my role, I have to decide whether they should picked in the first XI or not."
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“We need to play the way we know to play. That makes us stronger. We will go out there looking to win the game”, said Lobera. “In the last game against Jamshedpur, we needed only a draw and we went and won the game.”
“We are playing a tough team. They changed in the 3-2 game. I thought they were two different halves. We led 3-0 at halftime and in the second half, they dominated and scored two goals”, he added. “But we are going to keep playing our brand of football because I think that makes us the strongest.”

Laxmikant Kattimani started in goal for Goa in the first leg due to Naveen Kumar’s suspension. But he did alright after being culpable of gifting goals to the opposition early on in the season. Hugo Boumous was also missing with injury, but Lobera confirmed that both are available for tomorrow.

“I think in the last few games, we had Boumous not available. Naveen was also missed. But the team has always managed to compete because the strength lies in the team”, said Lobera.

Mandar Rao Desai put in a tireless performance in the first leg with most of the openings coming through him. However, Lobera wanted his team to provide more support to the young winger.

“I think our goal came from Mandar in the first leg”, he said. “I think within the game, there were not many gaps behind the defenders. We didn't have enough numbers in attack and for Mandar, it was tough because he did not have many targets to find.”

The Spanish coach also refused to be drawn into a conversation on his future saying it wasn't important at the moment:

“The most important thing is playing the semi final which we hopefully will win. I have a contract with the club for the next year as well but, coaches' future depends on the present. Therefore, all my efforts are focused on tomorrow's game and hopefully we will be in the final.”
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