Mumbai City's bet on Sergio Lobera paid off
When City Football Group (CFG) took control of Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City in November 2019, they several key decisions to make.
One of them was to appoint a head coach who can bring them success. They had Jorge Costa in charge at that time the results during the 2019-20 season just didn't help his case as the club finished fifth in the standings.
Mumbai City went for Sergio Lobera, who was relieved of his duties by FC Goa with three games to go in the league stage of the 2019-20 ISL season.
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FC Goa comfortably won the League Winners Shield by topping the league and becoming the first Indian club to qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage with a five-point lead over the second-placed team.
Lobera deserves credit for what he did with FC Goa to make them one of the most formidable teams in Indian football who are pleasing to the eye when they play football. Mumbai City decided to go for the Spaniard after FC Goa parted ways with the coach and after just 20 ISL matches as the Islanders head coach, Lobera has delivered the team's first title - the 2020-21 League Winners Shield.
Mumbai City provided Lobera with everything he needs. Lobera had the freedom to build a strong squad that is capable of winning titles. But it was also a lot of pressure for the head coach who is spearheading CFG's project in India in their first full season.
Lobera calmly worked his way through any challenge that he faced and at one point, went 12 games in a row without defeat. While he had an enviable foreign task force at his disposal, the coach also utilized his Indian talents to great effect. The likes of Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Rowllin Borges and Bipin Singh have elevated their game to a new level this season.
The Islanders lost their first game of the season before going on an excellent run. Their next dip in form only arrived towards the end of the season when they picked up one win in six matches with two games remaining in the league stage. Lobera's team was able to overcome that challenge as well, beating Odisha 6-1 in the penultimate round before beating ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 in the final league game to clinch the top spot and the silverware.
Mumbai City management wanted to win the league title while playing an attractive brand of football that has become synonymous with Manchester City and Sergio Lobera has done just that. And despite having a strong squad available to him, he has had to navigate challenges.
By winning the League Winners Shield, they became the first CFG-owned side to win a league title in the very first year of their association with the group which has a roster of 11 football clubs. They chose to bring in Sergio Lobera as the head coach of the team and the move really paid off.