ISL 2017/18: ''We can feel it in our hands'' says Sergio Lobera as FC Goa push for semi-finals
FC Goa take on ATK in their final home game of the season. The Gaurs can't afford to lose the match as they push for a place in the semis
Fresh off the back of a thumping 4-0 away win at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune against Pune City FC, FC Goa's Head Coach Sergio Lobera was excited and full of confidence ahead of his side's game against a struggling Kolkata.
The 9th placed side will visit the Fatorda Stadium tomorrow and have their go at taking 3 points to finish the season in a better position while the Gaurs will look to take all 3 points in their hunt to qualify for the semis with a game in hand
FC Goa's Head Coach Lobera told the media
''The most important thing is always to win and if we can do it in the way that we did in the last game that's even better. But to win you have to do some things and some of the things we did were, to keep a clean sheet, to score 4 goals and we played good football, but ultimately winning is a consequence of all those things together. So for me getting the 3 points was the most necessary outcome of that game''
''Once a game is finished the next game is the most important and we know tomorrow's game is very important for us. We have fought a lot to reach this position where it still depends on us (how/if Goa go through) we are excited and we believe in finishing the work we started a few months ago and hopefully when the next two games are done we hope that our fans will be happy and hope that we will be competing for the semi-finals.''
Surprisingly, FC Goa has never managed to defeat ATK since the ISL began and the team will look to finally break the drought and give fans some consolation as Coach Lobera also stated
'' Statistics and records are always there but are meant to be broken. What happened in the past stays in the past and will have no connection with tomorrow and wouldn't have made a difference even if we won all our previous encounters against them, it doesn't make me nervous at all. Tomorrow is a new scenario with a new team altogether and that shouldn't affect us at all''
A rejuvenated FC Goa will go into tomorrow game knowing that 4 points would technically, just about be enough to qualify for semis but 6 points and 2 wins, however, would 100% confirm their place in the semis and leave them in a better position than the latter too.
The 4-0 win against 2nd place Pune City FC could prove to be a massive confidence booster and catalyst for the side ahead of their final two games. Coach Lobera said
''I think more than anything else it was the effectiveness in front of goal that changed or rather improved. In the games before that, we had lots of chances but couldn't convert or utilize them and that's what changed the result of the game for us. The team demonstrated their personality and style that we all remember from the first half of the season and we maintained the control throughout the game in a difficult situation.''
FC Goa's new signing Hugo Boumous has stepped up for the team in the absence of certain players due to injuries and suspensions with 2 goals and man of the match performances in the last 2 games and other players like Goalkeeper Naveen Kumar have also impressed, but Coach Lobera was quick to dismiss individualistic praise and continued to emphasize on team efforts as he has from Day 1. he said
''It's ultimately a team that wins you games and tournaments, there are certain players that put their full efforts and maybe sometimes they are not noticed because they don't score the goals and hence are not in the limelight, I think its important that a team is put above the interest of an individual''
''I think if we did not have the faith that we currently have we would've not got the result that we did against Pune. In fact, no team can achieve success without faith. We have excitement within the team, we have to believe in ourselves, we can feel it in our hands and all the fans in Goa deserve to witness their teams in the semis and we are going to try our best.''
FC Goa finally managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time in this season's ISL and that has seemed to be the focus ever since. Coach Lobera seemed eager to make a statement on that matter and emphasize on what his feelings were. He ended by saying
'' Regarding the clean sheet once again, I repeat, the most important thing for me is the 3 points. Also having returned to our form of attacking football having scored 4 goals was great. Had we won 6-1, I would have honestly been more content. Why would I be more content? Sure we would have lost the clean sheet but because the score would be 6-1 that would mean a +5 GD and 4-0 would obviously mean a +4 GD. Right now we have +7 Goal Difference on the table and we could find ourselves in a situation where for example, suppose we end up with the same points and GD as Chennai, it will go down to our head to head records and have scored more goal against Chennai then they have against us so we would be safe. But if you take Pune for example if we land up level with them at the end of the season, the 4-0 win will prove to be a massive advantage for us but had we won 1-0 vs them we would be in trouble. So a clean sheet is not always as important as it seems.''