ISL 2017: "Never in a game where three points are available would I be okay with one point," says Goa coach Lobera ahead of clash with Chennaiyin
2016 was a year to forget for FC Goa. After the high of the previous season where they finished runners-up, barely missing out on being champions, the club plunged to the bottom of the table last time around with some abject showings throughout the season. There was tension between the coach and the owners and many issues plaguing the team.
This year, Goa hope to start with a clean slate following a massive shake-up ranging from the coach to the players in the squad.
We will get our first glimpse of the side under new coach Sergio Lobera on Sunday when they play Chennaiyin FC.
Speaking ahead of the game, coach Lobera sounded happy with his side's preparation and set up.
"I think we had a very good pre-season. I'm very happy with the pre-season we've had this year in Spain. I think we've progressed very well in terms of how we want to go as a team. I feel the Indian players in the team have done well. Also, we have integrated the foreign players into the side who we feel suit our system well. Overall, I'm very happy with the composition of the team," said Lobera.
He also stated that his side are looking forward to Sunday even if they are not at 100% just yet.
"Very happy and very excited about the league starting. We are not at 100%, no team is at this stage. Also, this is a completely new team almost made from scratch. So teams develop their way through a season and not at the beginning itself," Lobera added.
He did reveal though that Spanish striker Adrian Colunga is unlikely to feature tomorrow. "Colunga is not a 100%. So we've decided to go ahead with other options in the final matchday squad. But the rest of them are all fit and ready to go and they are keenly awaiting the start of the season."
Lobera got a chance to meet his Chennaiyin counterpart and the other coaches during media day a week ago. When asked if he'd spoken to his opposite number from Chennaiyin, John Gregory, Lobera joked, "Yes, I did meet John at the media day along with the other coaches. We did speak, but nothing much, just wished him all the best, just not for tomorrow."
Many expect Lobera to bring a Spanish style to Goa. When probed about what kind of football he wants his side to play, Lobera replied, "I think it's very important we play definite football. What we want is for the fans who come watch us play to go back home happy after 90 minutes. I believe in football that is offensive, non-speculative where we take the initiative. We care about the result, but we also care about the manner in which we get the result."
He also sounded bullish about tomorrow's encounter, claiming that his side are not going to set up for a point beforehand.
"Never in a game where three points are available would I be okay with one point. If I say before a game that I want one point it means a lack of faith in myself, my team and the players. Of course, during a game based on the situation you might think about different possibilities, but before a match starts I would never accept one point," said the Spaniard.
Lobera admitted that there might be nerves considering the occasion tomorrow, but added that he's told his players to enjoy themselves out there to help them combat the nervousness.
"Tomorrow being the first match of the season, yes some of my players might be nervous. But I have just told them to go out there and enjoy themselves. If they start enjoying the game, the fans will also start enjoying the game," exclaimed the Goa coach.
Chennaiyin and Goa have had some heated encounters in the past. Chennaiyin mounted a late comeback to steal the trophy from Goa's hands in the 2015 final which ended in an ugly fashion with scuffles breaking out. Even in the regular season games, with Zico and Marco Materazzi not shying away from some verbal back and forth, games got heated. But Lobera was quick to shoot down the tempestuousness that has existed between these sides in previous encounters, claiming that those events were now in the past.
"To compare two players is difficult. To compare two coaches is even more difficult. To compare two teams with two different coaches in two different seasons is not even possible. Past is past. Today's the present and tomorrow's the future. We just need to focus on the present. If we think about three weeks from now, two months from now, we will not achieve what we want to do now," Lobera proclaimed.
Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani was also of the same opinion. "It's in the past. I don't think we should think about it too much. We're just focusing on this season and tomorrow's match against Chennaiyin FC and hoping for a good result," said the Goa custodian.