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ISL 2018-19: Sergio Lobera - Can't rest key players before playoffs

10:17 PM GMT+4 14/02/2019
Sergio Lobera FC Goa
The former Barcelona C wants to finish on top of the table by beating Bengaluru next week...

According to their own lofty standards, FC Goa bounced back after a goalless draw with Delhi Dynamos to beat ATK 3-0 on Thursday.

Head coach Sergio Lobera was pleased that his side still had a fighting chance to end the league phase on top, as they were three points behind leaders Bengaluru.

"I'm happy because we have won the game but also because of the way we have won. It was a huge step forward in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. For the three remaining matches, two are at home.

"So if we get the victory in the next game at home, we will see at Bengaluru for a chance to get on top of the table. We have to go step by step, following the path we have been adopting till today," he expressed.

"We have to give some respect to ourselves and I'm not going to talk about the playoffs when we have not qualified yet," he remarked, choosing not to divulge much on his thoughts about his preferred opponents in the next round.

When asked if he would be keeping his key players fresh ahead of the knockout phase, Lobera replied in the negative. "We are not yet in the playoffs. So I have to use all the (key) players.

"We are going to try to do what we always do and try to keep the team as fit as possible. We are not thinking yet about the playoffs but we have to keep the team as fit as possible for the upcoming games."

The 42-year-old also reaffirmed that teenage goalkeeping sensation Mohammad Nawaz was out of the team owing to an injury and not that he has lost trust in the youngster.

"The reason why Naveen (Kumar) is playing is because (Mohammad) Nawaz has been injured but I trust them both the same," he quipped.