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ISL does not deserve games like this: Goa coach Lobera 

Kolkata, Jan 4 (IANS) Distraught over Indian Super League’s (ISL) decision to go ahead with a match despite an unprecedented delay, FC Goa’s Spanish head coach Sergio Lobera said after the game that the league does not deserve matches like this.

In the aftermath of a MiG-29K aircraft catching fire after skidding off the runway at Goa’s Dabolim International Airport on Wednesday morning, FC Goa players were left stranded all day before a chartered flight from New Delhi flew them from their base to Kolkata.

After several delays, the match started at 10.45 p.m., a first in Indian football, with the Goa team touching down here at 8.59 p.m. and reaching the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan at 9.42 p.m.

“I have never faced (such a situation) in professional football. ISL is a great league and it doesn’t deserve matches like today,” a fuming Lobera told reporters after the tie finished 1-1 well past midnight on Thursday.

“The circumstances we faced in the last couple of days did not permit us to play this game today.

“The only thing I can be content about today is none of my players were injured and there was nothing serious. 

“Today was an incredible day. I have never seen a team warm up in their travel gear and it is not good for the fans, players or the league,” the 40-year old coach added.

On Wednesday night, the team were then seen warming up in sneakers, black jackets and shorts as reports of their kit not arriving surfaced.

Lobera further said that they had nothing to eat at the airport and had nowhere to rest.

“Yesterday, our flight had to make an emergency landing. This morning also the same happened.

“It’s not good as a spectacle. We spent the entire day at the airport with nothing to eat and nowhere to rest. And we had to come here running as otherwise, we would have lost three points. We had to change and come back for the match within five minutes after training,” he said.

Talking about the health of the players who were at the airport all day and travelled late to Kolkata and immediately took the field, Lobera said they took a “great risk” and at the end of the day they are not the ones who take decisions.

“The health of players is paramount. I am grateful no one was injured. We took a great risk today. We were not the ones the who made the decision (whether to go ahead with the game). It was the authorities who tell you where to play and when to play.

“I think my players had great mental strength and physically they did well despite the problems. We represented the fans and people of Goa with pride today.”

A Robbie Keane opener was cancelled out by ISL’s topscorer Ferran Corominas later in the first half. The result was not the only thing that worried Lobera.

“We had a free opportunity in the end and we should have converted. What is concerning is the matches we have after this. All those matches will get affected. I am glad we ended stronger and on another day, we could have won,” he concluded. 

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