FC Goa’s emerging sensation Princeton Rebello has stated that Sergio Lobera is different from any other coaches he has played under, not only for his ideology but also his unique style of football. The 20-year-old also expressed his desire to play in the deep midfield, where he could create more.
The Gaurs might not have the league this season but the Super Cup title did put a satisfactory ending to their other unfulfilling campaign in the second season of Sergio Lobera. The Spaniard had created shockwaves when FC Goa first introduced him to the league in the 2017-18 season, and although Goa had to be satisfied with a playoff spot that season he took his team to the final last season where they lost to eventual champions Bengaluru FC.
However, that didn’t make Goa’s season any less thrilling with the team pulling off some stunning goals, flawless passing and lastly, some promising talents in Brandon Fernandes, Saviour Gama, Mohammad Nawaz, and more. And while most of them got their share of time and chance to impress one and all, there are others who are expected to attract eyeballs next season.
And Princeton is amongst them. Signed in 2017 for their developmental squad, Princeton was amongst the nine players that included Liston Colaco (Salgaocar FC), Aaren D'Silva, Derren Fernandes (both St Cruz Club, Cavelossim), Princeton Rebello (Vasco SC), Jude Cardozo and Ivon Costa.
Having given trails in English clubs like Queens Park Rangers and Watford, Rebello always wanted to play for India that brought him back to Goa’s Vasco SC and the rest followed. He got into Sporting Club de Goa’s U-19 team that earned him a call-up to the India U-19 camp for the SAFF and AFC Cup, which also made him the only Goan to have that honour.
Goa had to tussle with the likes of East Bengal and Minerva Punjab to land him and it ended up being a huge win. Though Princeton is yet to be a regular in Lobera’s side, the manager was seen showing faith in the youngster in crucial Hero Cup matches against Jamshedpur FC and Chennai City FC, playing seven minutes in total.
Largely dubbed to be the next big thing coming out of FC Goa next season, Princeton sounded very content with the training sessions under Lobera regardless of the little to no chances he has got with the first team.
“Our coach Sergio Lobera is really different from all coaches I've been with previously. His ideology is very different. The football what we play is very unique and the style is very different. I have learnt a lot in training and from playing under him. Though I didn’t play much, the practice sessions helped me improve and get comfortable with our style of play. I respect him a lot. Till now, I feel he’s the best coach the ISL has sees and everyone loves his style of football,” said Lobera in an exclusive interview with Sportscafe.
“I would say that FC Goa's training sessions are the best sessions I've experienced until now. And it is a lot of different from the sessions I have experienced with clubs before. The intensity is very high, the ball is more or less involved with all the drills, the players are all experienced and is targeted at making us better technically,” he added.
However, just getting acquainted with the rigours of the league or Lobera’s style of play isn’t his only challenge. Midfield holds a crucial place in Lobera’s master plan and he has two of his best players, Edu Bedia and Ahmed Jahouh, sitting there to command the team. Hence, breaking into the first team is going to be an extremely difficult task for Princeton.
Princeton revealed that Bedia has always been a guide to him on how to play and the youngster even watches the Spaniard while trying to implement them every day. But, he was quick to state that it won’t stop him from fighting for the side and was confident that he would soon be successful.
“For me, Edu is one of the best in the team. He always guides me as to how to play and etc. I watch his movement and I try to implement them while in both my training and play. I would say it is difficult for me to break into the team as there are experienced players in my position - who are really doing well also. But I won't stop fighting, I give my everything every time and I am confident that I’ll soon make it.”
Indian football has been going through an interesting phase at the moment, at least on the international stage. After Stephen Constantine left the side following India’s painful AFC Asian Cup exit from the group stages, the AIFF has taken a long time before appointing Croatia’s Igor Stimac as the coach. A 37-man probable squad was also announced on Thursday, which included many new faces who impressed at the ISL last season.
While Princeton is at least a season away from seeing himself on such a list, the names quite intriguingly don’t feature a proper attacking midfielder or a number 10. Barring Sahal Abdul Samad, India have numerous talented wingers and wide forwards and Princeton could really have an edge in it. However, Princeton was of the opinion that he was comfortable playing in any midfield positions and he also revealed his preference to play deeper where he would see more of the ball.
“Being a midfielder, I know if I get a chance to play it will make me mentally stronger and I know it will help me a lot as well. I hope I get a chance in the next ISL.
“I would like to play any position in the midfield, attacking or defensive - doesn't really matter. But if given a choice, I like to play a deeper role so that I have more options and I can choose between staying back or going up to help the attack. I like to be the playmaker. I am always on the lookout for quick switchovers, playing ball that put the defence on the backtrack and I like to control the tempo of the game.”
Princeton idolizes Cristiano Ronaldo and believes hard work could triumph over everything. “Cristiano Ronaldo is my idol. He works really hard and there no player like him till date in terms of work ethic,” Princeton signed off.
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