Herald: What made you choose FC Goa?
Sergio Lobera Rodriguez: I got many offers but Goa was the best option for me for different reasons. I travelled to Goa earlier and spoke to the president and others to know about the club and the State. Besides, I also got a lot of information on Indian football and watched a lot of videos after which I arrived to a conclusion and decided to join. At present this club is the best for me to achieve success and good results. For me, football is more important than the economy. As I am very young coach, success is very important for my future and that is what I am looking out for with FC Goa.
H: ISL Draft is on July 23. Will you be a part of the selection? What would be your choice of players?
SR: Yes. I travelled here because it is very important for me to know my team. I will have an indoor meeting with the club members to speak on different issues and make of choice. The club members are very hard working, and the decision will be taken unanimously. You will see the result next Sunday.
H: Nothing went right for FC Goa last season after two successful campaigns earlier. Were you given an assessment of the team before you made your decision to come to Goa?
SR: I knew under what situation the club was running last year. I watched every match of FC Goa (last season) and felt that the team is not up to the mark. There is a need to change the context of the game and start from zero. I need to start with a new beginning as it is a new team, new players and I will try my level best to get the best out of the boys.
H: The German coach Joaquim Leow won the Confed Cup with a team comprising mostly youngsters. Do you think that a youth team will be ideal for Goa or will you prefer a blend of both youth and experience?
SR: While selecting a player the most important aspect is the balance of the team. It is not only the ground where a coach should concentrate on the team. The personal life of a player, talks in the dressing room, etc. should be also considered when choosing a player. Besides, the experience of a particular player, the background he comes from and profile of an experienced player is very important. I think Indian employers should not only choose experienced players but very good professional players. I understand the players personally and work accordingly so that they improve in their career. Communication with the players is very important.
H: Where do you see FC Goa under your leadership?
SR: I arrived in Goa with a motto to help the club. A lot of coaches when they sign a club feel that coach is very important but for me the role of the coach is to work with the team. A coach needs to understand all the members of the club. I have come here to help the club to improve in different ways — with my ideas, philosophy, opinion, experience and as many ways as possible. I am looking at what the fans want. What the fans and the club wants is to get very good results. For me, it is not only important that my team wins in 90 minutes but also the way it has won the game. My aim is after watching a game the fans should leave the stadium happily.
H: What format will you have for the team, 4-2-4, 4-3-3 or 4-5 with a lone striker? Or will you decide this after you study the team?
SR: Number is not important for me. You need to build the team. It is difficult to know the adaptation of the players. Many of them think Goa players play the same as Barcelona which is not. The most important is adaptation which you need to understand of a player. I will play a format that suits my players. The base philosophy is we play for victory whichever formation suits us. It is also important to know the rival team but I will not change the position of players just because of the rival team but according to the personality of a player.
H: What, according to you, will be difference between Barcelona and FC Goa?
SR: There is major difference between Barcelona and FC Goa like all other countries. The best coach is who has the capacity for adaptation in the context you work. The mentality of Morocco players is not the same as Spanish. For a coach, performance by the team is most important. Players have their objectives and the team has its own, the coach’s aim should be to try and blend the objectives in the best possible way. In India I see a lot of respect not only for football but for all other aspects of life.
H: Do you intend to stay with Goa for a long time? If we can ask, what is the term of your contract?
SR: I have a two-year contract with FC Goa. I am here not for money. I was working in Las Palmas where I spent the longest time for that is 14 years and it is a record for the club by a young coach. In Morocco I was for two and half years. I always think of a long-term and not short. My plan is to stay with FC Goa for a long period. The future of a coach is the present. If I do well then I don’t have to worry about my future.
H: You are replacing Zico, one of successful coaches in football? Is this going to play on your mind?
SR: To substitute Zico is a pleasure. Zico is a big name in the world of football. He was very good player and for me he is a good coach. Besides, my team, nothing will be on my mind.
H: Will you help out in training the youth also?
SR: I think the passion for the academy is Derrick Pereira. He is very good signing for the club. I was working for a lot of time with young players and I know the situation. This is not the first time I have been working with the first team. During my last visit to Goa (also the first time in India) I spoke to Derrick and I felt that he is the right person. Our connection is very good and together we can do a very good job. It is now necessary for all the clubs to work together with young players. [H]