FC Goa gear up to welcome Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 debutants Jamshedpur FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa on Thursday. The Gaurs started the season with a flourish, but have recently experienced a slump in form, having failed to secure a win in their last three encounters. However, when they meet the best defensive unit this season, the hosts will have to live up to their tag of being the best attacking unit with 20 goals to their name from just 8 matches so far.
In the pre-match press conference, speaking to the media was Goa’s head coach Sergio Lobera who was asked what can be the reason behind the team’s recent form. “Yeah it is true that we haven’t done well in the last three games but there are certain reasons why,” he began. “In this league, the small details make all the difference. Against Pune, if we had taken the lead the result would have been completely different. When the score was 0-0, there was an opportunity where we should have taken the lead. In the second game against Kolkata, there was an opportunity for a penalty that wasn’t given. Again if we had put ourselves in the lead, I don’t think we would have had just one point from that game. And the last game, we weren’t at our best. We have to learn from our mistakes and be at our best in every game and tomorrow if we win we will be back with the teams at the top.”
When asked if the recent draws and defeats were because other teams had worked out their weaknesses and tactics, the Spaniard opined, “Pune, NorthEast didn’t play differently to what they usually play, against us. But again tomorrow we play against a team that have kept five clean sheets so we have to prepare. From the next set of games, we have five games at home which will show us whether we’re a team capable of competing in the semi-finals. I have a lot of faith in my players, I have a lot of faith in the fans and all the people back home watching.”
The 40-year old made four changes to the starting line-up in their 2-1 away loss to NorthEast United FC, but Lobera is not of the view that those changes affected their gameplay. “The obvious reason (for the changes) being that we played two matches in four days. The first match we played in some adverse and uncertain circumstances. In the second game obviously, we had to rest some players. I put my players above the result ultimately. We always looked for three points in both games, that was the best option. Based on the first match, we had to make changes,” he explained.
The Gaurs lost their previous home match 2-0 to FC Pune City, but Lobera believes his team will not be under added pressure to secure a win when playing in front of their passionate fans. “We don’t have any pressure. We are a team that has a lot of excitement. We’re coming from a very difficult season last year. I think we’ve recovered the confidence and faith of the supporters with the style of play and results. For me as a coach, we have to be in the top with a point of view of excitement and not pressure,” he concluded.