Mumbai City coach Sergio Lobera: NorthEast United have improved leaps and bounds under Khalid Jamil

The Spanish coach has taken note of the Highlanders recent surge in performance since losing against them in their season opener…

Mumbai City FC have not lost a game since losing to NorthEast United in their first game of the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL). The two teams face each other again on Saturday. Lobera feels that the Highlanders have improved leaps and bounds under Khalid Jamil. 

“I am not worried about the first match (1-0 loss against NorthEast United),” said Islanders’ gaffer Segio Lobera who feels that the northeastern outfit have shown a renewed sense of viguour since the departure of Gerard Nus.

 “They have improved a lot with the new coach (Khalid Jamil) in the last two games. They are playing very good attacking football and very comfortable keeping possession of the ball. For us it’s going to be a different game from the first leg but we have obviously improved from the first match of the season. It’s going to be a very good game and it’s not easy now to play against NorthEast,” he added.

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Ahmed Jahouh has been suspended twice this season while Mandar Rao Dessai and Hernan Santana have served their respective suspensions. Now Mumbai City will be missing Rowllin Borges for Saturday’s tie due to suspension. Others such as Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Amey Ranawade and Hugo Boumous are on three yellow cards each. However, Lobera maintained that it won’t change the way his side approaches a game.

“Our focus is only on the next game. Every match is very important for us. A lot of players were suspended and now we are in the same situation. But we need to play thinking to get three points rather than thinking about avoiding the cards. When one player is missing, we have to try to manage the situation in the best way possible. We have a very good squad. So it’s not an excuse for me in trying to win the games,” he explained.

As the former Goa coach constantly lays his focus on improvement, mistakes such as Jahouh’s foul in the penalty box that allowed Chennaiyin to draw level in the 1-1 draw on Monday have also occasionally hurt them.

“We always try to improve on our mistakes. The last game is not a special situation. Obviously, it’s difficult for us to lose two points because of a mistake in one action but we need to know that situation is possible when we are playing. Nothing is different in the other games. We are training to improve day by day,” the coach responded.

Sergio Lobera, Chennai City vs Mumbai City

Players like Sarthak Golui haven’t had much game time under Lobera, given the squad depth and options at Mumbai City.

“This is one situation and the other situation is that players like Bipin (Singh) who didn’t play much are playing more this season,” the 44-year-old observed. “Sometimes it’s difficult for me to make decisions because I have very good players. A lot of players are not playing now because we have 27 players in the squad. If we want to win the league, we need the entire squad.

“I have situations where I could bring in these players in some part of the season and they need to accept these roles. It’s not only about Sarthak. These players can help us win the league. Sometimes the group is broken because of the attitude of some players. I think it’s very important to work as a team to get success. 

“As a coach, my job is to manage individual and collective targets but doing it with 27 players is not easy. But in this season a lot of things are possible to happen in a short time. Our players who are not playing now, maybe it’s possible for them to play in the next few matches because what will happen in the future.”


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