Indian football: Mumbai City coach Lobera steps down

Reigning Indian Super League (ISL) champions Mumbai City on Friday announced that Sergio Lobera will be stepping down as their head coach after a successful one-year stint with the club.

The club’s new head coach will be Des Buckingham, who joins from sister club and A-League champions Melbourne City. He will join the Islanders ahead of the 2021-22 season on a two-year contract, the franchise stated.

Buckingham will arrive in the country shortly and will undergo the stipulated quarantine before joining the Mumbai City bubble in Goa to commence pre-season preparations ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The statement said Lobera will continue his coaching journey with City Football Group (CFG), which owns Mumbai City, Melbourne City and top English Premier League side Manchester City among others.

Lobera joined the club in October 2020 and oversaw the club’s most successful campaign ever, when the Islanders became the first team in ISL history to secure both the League Winners’ Shield and the Trophy.

Englishman Des Buckingham was assistant coach to Patrick Kisnorbo, helping the club towards winning the A-League Premiership and Championship double, the statement added.

Prior to joining Melbourne City, Buckingham became the youngest coach in A-League history when he took charge of Wellington Phoenix at the age of 31, before a spell with Stoke City’s U-23 team.

Buckingham was also the head coach of New Zealand’s U-20 and U-23 teams as well as the assistant coach to the All Whites’ First Team for a brief period.

He guided the New Zealand U-20 to the Round of 16 in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup before bowing out to Colombia in a penalty shootout.

Kandarp Chandra, CEO of Mumbai City FC, said, “We are delighted to welcome Des to Mumbai City. He is an exciting young coach who already has years of experience under his belt.”

“Sergio was a huge part of the most successful season in the club’s history and has helped to give us great foundations to build on this year.”

Buckingham, on his part said, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Australia, but the opportunity to take control of the defending ISL champions was impossible to turn down.”

ISL reallocates prize money, league stage winners to get Rs 3 crore more from this season 

Indian Super League organisers on Friday announced an increase in the prize money of ‘Shield Winners’ by Rs 3 crore starting from the upcoming season, while reducing the amount handed to the ISL champions.

The League Winners Shield, introduced in 2019-20 season conferred to table toppers, were presented with Rs 50 lakh in the last two seasons.

As part of the ISL prize money reallocation, Football Sports Development (FSDL) has now allocated Rs 3.5 crore to the League Winners.

The ISL champions — winner of the final — will now get Rs 6 crore (previously Rs 8 crore), while the runners-up will get Rs 3 crore (previously Rs 4 crore). The other two semi-finalists will continue to receive Rs 1.5 crore each.

The total prize money pool for ISL 2021-22 remains Rs 15.5 crore.

The League Winners are also rewarded with the highest honour to represent India in Asia’s showpiece club football competition — the AFC Champions League.

FC Goa were its inaugural winners in 2019-20. Mumbai City FC are its current holders, having completed the ‘double’ along with winning their maiden ISL trophy in 2020-21.

If the Shield Winners go on to win the ISL championship, they would pocket Rs 9.5 crore (Rs 3.5 crore + Rs 6 crore). If they finish runners-up in the ISL final, the Shield Winners will earn Rs 6.5 crore (Rs 3.5 crore + Rs 3 crore).

ISL 2021-22 begins on November 19 with last season’s finalist ATK Mohun Bagan taking on Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at Fatorda, Margao.

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