The Spaniard is concerned about players missing games due to suspensions…
Following just their second defeat of the season in their last game against NorthEast United, league leaders Mumbai City face Kerala Blasters on Wednesday and coach Sergio Lobera wants a positive reaction from his team.
The Islanders are currently at the top of the table with 30 points from 14 games.
“We knew this situation was possible to happen because it’s practically impossible not to lose a game in a season. Never before was one (ISL) team unbeaten for 12 games. One (bad) result doesn’t affect us because we need to continue improving and working with the same ambition. Obviously, we need to learn from our mistakes but I’m not worried about our situation,” said the Spaniard.
“Kerala Blasters have improved a lot. Now they are competing and playing very well. The first half of the last game (3-2 defeat against ATK Mohun Bagan) was a very good example of this. They try to play from the back with very good players but the most important thing is to put our focus on ourselves and compete against a very good team,” he added.
With 30 points from 14 games, Mumbai City have recorded as many as eight clean sheets this season and have a three-point lead over ATK Mohun Bagan at the top of the table.
“We need to improve from our last game, especially our style because we conceded two goals in three minutes. We need to start the game better but I don’t think we need to change a lot of things because the team conceded five goals – three from penalties before this game.
“Obviously, when you lose three points you lose one opportunity to take advantage of the situation. The most important thing is the reaction of the players after conceding two goals. I’m very proud of the attitude of my players after this situation and I’m sure my players can’t wait to start the next game and show everyone our ambition as a team,” Lobera stated.
Having missed the services of Rowllin Borges in the 2-1 defeat to NorthEast United on Saturday, the Islanders will now be without Ahmed Jahouh who is suspended for a record third time this season.
“I think we have enough players in our squad to try and win games and obviously Borges is a very good player but it’s not an excuse to lose a game because we were missing one player.”
Speaking about Jahouh, Lobera continued, “Losing [a player for] three games in 14 games is a lot. We need to improve in some (situations) because sometimes it’s possible to avoid the cards. Jahouh is a player with the highest number of tackles (114, as well as fouls – 41, and red cards – 2) in the league.
He went on to explain, “When we lose the ball, we need to take the risk because the team is playing openly and there are a lot of fouls against us in these situations. Maybe it’s normal to receive the yellow cards but I think it’s too much in this case (Jahouh). We need to improve in these numbers (team with most yellow cards – 40) because it’s very important for me as a coach to have a full squad in every game for this most important time of the season.”
Lobera also explained why Sarthak Golui and Saurav Das were allowed to go on loan to East Bengal for the rest of the season.
“He (Golui) is one of the best centre backs in India. I don’t have any doubts about this. We are using two foreign players (Mourtada Fall and Hernan Santana) in this position and it’s very important for him to play because he needs to go to the national team.
“Obviously, as a coach, I need to make decisions with our style of play and profile of the players I need. Sarthak is a very good person and I’m very proud to work with him. When he asked me if it’s possible for him to play for another club, I needed to understand this situation and the club allowed the player to go to another team and try to get more opportunities to play.
“I think the player (Das) needs to play. He (Das) didn’t have enough opportunities with us and it’s difficult when you are in the squad and the coach doesn’t give you an opportunity to play. The most important thing is if he gets an opportunity to play in the upcoming games with another team.”
Asked if second-placed ATK Mohun Bagan’s wins motivate his side or add more pressure, the Mumbai City tactician pointed out that the race for the playoffs is not only between the two teams at the top of the table.
“We don’t feel the pressure. At the beginning of the league, if someone asked us if we want to be in our position after 14 games, we (welcome) this situation. We have a three-point lead compared to the second team on the table. We are in a very good position and I have 100 per cent confidence and trust in our players. ATK Mohun Bagan is a very good team but it’s not only between ATK Mohun Bagan and us.”