After the dispute in the dressing room, FC Goa dismisses his best coach

Panaji: FC Goa he took everyone by surprise when they delivered a letter of dismissal to head coach Sergio Lobera and two of his trusted assistants, even though the team is on top of the Indian Super League ( ISL ) table with only three games to play.

A day after the team returned to Goa from Bhubaneswar where they scripted a 4-2 victory over Odisha FC and regained the top spot with 30 points, a clear two-point lead over Bengaluru FC, the management summoned Lobera to the club headquarters in Porvorim on Friday and informed him of the decision. Assistant coach Jesus Tato and conditioning coach Manuel Sayabera, both loyal to Lobera, are also on their way out.

“The decision has been taken to ensure that the team’s campaign in the ISL is not derailed. The management was worried about the direction in which the team was headed. There were plenty of internal issues which were distracting the team from its goal of finishing on top and winning the ISL trophy, ”a source who tracked the development told TOI on Friday.

After serving the termination notice on Friday afternoon, the decision was communicated to players as well. But a training session scheduled for later in the day was hastily canceled after Lobera and his staff refused to sign the termination letters, instead seeking time and advice from his legal team.

Technical director Derrick Pereira is expected to assume the position of interim coach on Sunday.

According to sources, tension within the dressing room was simmering for a while and Lobera had the ax hanging over his head for almost a month. The club management finally decided to bite the bullet after the win against Odisha, a game that saw Goa concedes two goals despite taking a 3-0 lead at the breather. Goa had also allowed Kerala Blasters (2-0 up) and Chennaiyin FC (3-0 ahead) to claw their way back, even though they eventually managed to pick up full points.

“If not now, the decision could never be made. Goa plays his next two games at home and there are three weeks for things to calm down before the team plays the next game outside (against Jamshedpur FC on February 19), the source said.

Lobera was appointed as coach in 2017 at a time when the team, under Brazilian legend Zico, had finished at the bottom of the ISL table in 2016. Lobera guided Goa to a semifinal appearance in his first season, final in the second and also won the Super Cup, the club's first trophy.

Under Lobera, Goa played an attractive brand of football , which won the fans. Goa scored the highest number of goals in the last two seasons with Spanish forward Ferran Corominas finishing as the top scorer for two consecutive years.

FC Goa play their next two matches at home with games against Hyderabad FC (February 5) and Mumbai City FC (February 12).