ISL 2018-19: Sergio Lobera: I don't see FC Goa in the final yet

The coach of the Gaurs insists Mumbai City FC deserves respect despite defeating them 5-1 in the first leg...

FC Goa are on the brink of making it to the Indian Super League (ISL) final clash for the second time following their appearance in the 2015 edition of the competition where they dramatically lost the final showdown against eventual champions Chennaiyin FC 3-2.

However, having led his side to a 5-1 over Mumbai City FC in the first leg of the play-offs that was held at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday, Sergio Lobera hasn't yet considered the Gaurs to be finalists.

"I approach this game out of respect because we are facing a great team. I don't see ourselves in the final yet. If we think we are (in the final), it's a mistake by us. So we must be at our 100 percent," he said on the eve of the game.

With Mumbai City FC coach making a U-turn from his previous statement that their dream is 'finished' to now state that 'it's not impossible', the Spaniard quipped, "I respect what the other coach (Jorge Costa) said. He said that based on something that he has to believe."

FC Goa have build for themselves a formidable record over their Mumbai counterparts this season by scoring as many as 12 times in three games and letting in only one.

"I think what we have achieved is already in the past. It is going to help us tomorrow but what we have to do is continue working on the same path and we have to try to win our last game at home," Lobera maintained.

Mumbai City FC Goa

On being asked whether he will rest his key players, the former Las Palmas coach responded, "I will field a team that I consider the best to win the game. I cannot be thinking about the final because we are not there yet."

After ISL debutant Mohammad Nawaz pulled off an excellent showing in between the sticks in the first half of the season, January signing Naveen Kumar has also impressed in the team's recent outings.

"I think, as a coach, the best problem you can have is to have to decide between good players. I have two great goalkeepers. Nawaz had to stay out of the team because of an injury which no one obviously wanted and now both the goalkeepers (Nawaz and Naveen) are ready to get into the squad," Lobera observed.

Mandar FC Goa

Ahead of the play-offs, there have been instances where FC Goa found it challenging to rally back into a game after conceding first.

"We knew that the play-off is a completely different story to a league match. Throughout the match, there could be some bad or good moments. It's impossible that a team goes through only good moments. The most important thing is to keep working and playing as a team not only during good moments but also during bad moments. I'm very happy and proud of that reaction (comeback) and the way the team got the game going," the 42-year-old explained.

Finally, on Mandar Rao Dessai being picked as the skipper of his team, Lobera revealed, "In every team team that I have been coaching, I let the players choose who will be the captain. At the end, he will be the player who represents the entire team. So this idea has been the same. Personally, my opinion about Mandar is that he has all the qualities required to be the captain of the team."