FC Goa have had a dream start to their Indian Super League (ISL) season four having won three matches of the four they have played. However, there is a clear demarcation in the performance of the foreign contingent as compared to their Indian players.
While the likes of Ferran Corominas, Manuel Lanzarote, Edu Bedia and others have got every Goan fan excited, others such as Laxmikant Kattimani, Seriton Fernandes, Mohamed Ali, Narayan Das and so on haven’t been up to the mark.
Coach Sergio Lobera was asked by Goal whether it would make sense for a foreign coach, who has signed a long term agreement with the club, to get a chance to pick his Indian squad as opposed to being dependent on someone else’s choice. The 40-year-old chose to answer in a diplomatic fashion so as to not ruffle any feathers within his team.
“I like long term projects because they allow you to work on something considerable. We have built a team from scratch and we have had little time to instill our style of play into the team. But we are doing well and I think next year, the rules will allow us to maintain a core of the side. This will help us to increase our levels of performance as we will have stability within the side and we hope that will allow us to focus on the long term,” he replied.
Kattimani in particular has come under the scanner having made a mistake in each of the four matches. In fact he has been booed by the home fans whenever a pass is played to him. Certainly Goa’s decision to hand him a multiple year contract has come under the scanner. What’s worse is that Goa do not even have good back-up goalkeepers with Kattimani being their best bet!
“Every player has pressure and every player is a professional. Katti is a player with a lot of experience and he knows how to manage the situation. I, as a coach, have the utmost faith in him and he knows it,” he reiterated his faith in the custodian.
Kerala Blasters’ coach Rene Meulensteen mentioned that they were looking to make the most of the spaces left by the Goan defence given that their primary focus is to move forward every time. Lobera was questioned whether his style of play would hurt them in the long run as it always would leave them vulnerable at the back.
“I think we are the team with the most amount of goals in the league and that's got to count for something. But we it is true that the balance between attack and defence is vital. We are a team that takes risks but score goals. What we need to do is improve our defensive record, which we are currently looking to rectify.
“Well, we are a team that attacks as a unit and defend as a unit. Our aim is to be a team that is strong in attack, be compact in defence and play the transitions in sync. Therefore, when we score the goals it’s to merit of the whole team and when concede, it’s the same. We have to defend and attack as a whole,” he explained.
FC Goa can be compared to Liverpool FC of 2013-14 season who scored goals for fun but were equally leaky at the back only to miss out on the league title eventually.
“To be honest, I'm not in favour of comparing teams. Because each league, player and circumstance are different. Right now, you may compare us to Liverpool but we could also be compared to teams who scored for fun and went on to win the title too,” he responded to the comparison.
FC Goa’s next home game is on December 23rd against FC Pune City. Interestingly, Pradhyum Reddy, the Pune City assistant coach, had stated that Lobera is learning from FC Goa assistant coach Derrick Pereira as opposed to being the other way around.
The Orange and Purple brigade issued an apology to FC Goa thereafter as the Wadhawan Group-backed franchise chose not to back the statement of their assistant coach.
“We're about to play a game against Delhi (Dynamos) so the focus is completely on that. We can't be thinking about games that are further down the line. We will worry about Pune when the time comes,” was Lobera’s curt reply.