Mumbai City head coach Lobera to step down; Des Buckingham to take charge


Sergio Lobera, the head coach of top Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City, will be stepping down to continue his coaching journey with City Football Group (CFG), the defending champions said on Friday.

Des Buckingham, from CFG-owned A-League Champions Melbourne City FC, will be the new head coach and will join Mumbai City ahead of the 2021/22 season on a two-year contract.

Lobera joined the club in October 2020 and oversaw Mumbai City’s most successful campaign ever, when it became the first team in ISL history to secure both the ISL League Winners’ Shield and the ISL Trophy, completing a double in the 2020/21 season.

Englishman Des Buckingham joins from Melbourne City FC, where he was assistant coach to Patrick Kisnorbo, helping the club towards winning the A-League Premiership and Championship double. He made a significant contribution both on and off the pitch, taking charge of the team on three occasions during the 2020/21 season in the absence of Kisnorbo, in which he had a perfect winning record.

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

Des led the New Zealand U-20s to the Round of 16 in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup before bowing out to Colombia in a penalty shootout. In light of his notable work in the country, Des was named men’s ‘Coach of the Year’ at the 2020 New Zealand Football Awards.

Mumbai City FC CEO, Kandarp Chandra, said, “Des is an exciting young coach who already has years of experience under his belt. He is highly thought of within the game and his background at City Football Group ensures continuity for our squad as we head into pre-season. We are confident that Des is the right choice for Mumbai and we can’t wait to work with him.

“We are very sad to say goodbye to Sergio. 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. He is hugely admired and respected by everyone at the Club and will always be a very welcome guest in Mumbai,” Chandra added.

Des Buckingham said, “I am thrilled to be joining Mumbai City at such a successful period in the club’s history. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Australia, but the opportunity to take control of the defending ISL Champions was impossible to turn down. I’m looking forward to arriving in India and learning as much as I can about the Club, the players and the culture and continuing to work with colleagues at CFG to develop our young players and drive the team forward on and off the pitch.”

Des will arrive in India 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.