Can Sergio Lobera deliver the elusive ISL title for FC Goa?

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ISL
The two-time finalists will want to pass the final hurdle this season...

FC Goa have made it to the play-offs for a record number of times and are atop the all-time points table since the inception of the Indian Super League (ISL) but do not have a trophy to show for it all.

The Goan side had two heart-breaking defeats courtesy late winners on two occasions - in 2015 when Chennaiyin FC scored twice in injury time and last season as Bengaluru FC clinched the title with a 117th minute winner. Apart from that, Goa are two-time semi-finalists.

From Zico's Brazilian flair to the smooth attacking football under Lobera, FC Goa have created a reputation for themselves as a side to be vary of. Much of that has to do with the ultra attacking style of football that the former Barcelona assistant advocates.

Bengaluru FC vs FC Goa

Over the two seasons in charge, Lobera has built his team around key figures such as all-time top scorer Ferran Corominas and midfield maestro Ahmed Jahouh among others. Yet, singling out just a couple of players as key players could be the worst mistake any opponent could make. The way the team fared well without Manuel Lanzarote in the last season speaks volumes of the flexibility within the side. Lanzarote was prolific in Lobera's first season but Goa rarely missed him in Lobera's second season.

Edu Bedia was promoted up the order while Lenny Rodrigues proved the ideal introduction alongside Jahouh.

If Goa scored a record 42 goals in ISL season 4, they also conceded as many as 28 times. But Lobera added defensive stability last season with the addition of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena.

Regular full-backs Seriton Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai - both of whom were originally wingers - were also effectively used to check rival outfit's movements on either flanks combined with the edge they hold in attack.

FC Goa Super Cup final

Lobera's faith in young goalkeeping sensation Mohammad Nawaz and a permanent deal for Naveen Kumar, who was brought over on-loan from Kerala Blasters when the former was injured, looks good for the long haul. The same could be said while looking at the kind of youngsters the club has blooded in the likes of Saviour Gama, who slotted in after skipper Mandar Rao Dessai limped off at half-time in the ISL season 5 final or Liston Colaco and co. of those promoted from the reserve squad.

The attacking intent has been strengthened with the arrival of left winger Seiminlen Doungel while Brandon Fernandes, Hugo Boumous, Jackichand Singh and Manvir Singh provide options aplenty. In defence, Amey Ranawade makes his way back to the club while Aibanbha Dohling was roped in from Shillong Lajong.

Corominas enjoyed fruitful seasons with back-to-back Golden Boots to his name. As such, the retention of the former Espanyol striker and the likes of Jahouh despite lucrative offers from elsewhere, and almost the entire squad that won the 2019 Indian Super Cup last season is key for Goa.

Lobera badly needs to deliver the elusive ISL trophy now, for he has all the ingredients he needs to succeed.

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