FC Goa sack coach Sergio Lobera

Sergio Lobera Arjun Singh / SPORTZPICS for ISL

Current ISL leaders FC Goa have sacked head coach Sergio Lobera.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the club said it would like to thank Lobera and his coaching team for their service over the last two-and-a-half seasons and wish them well for the future.

"I wish to thank Sergio and his team on behalf of everyone involved at the club for the work they've put in over the past few seasons," said Akshay Tandon, the club's president. "Our objectives when Sergio came in was to instill a style of football and build a platform on which we would move forward as a club and we managed to achieve that consistently."

Sources suggested there had been a rift between the senior management and the coach ahead of the season, with Lobera unhappy that the club could not travel to Spain for pre-season, and with a lack of activity in the transfer market.

This seemed to have smoothed over as the season progressed, but it appears the issues resurfaced midway through the season. To add to this, there were concerns at both the boardroom level and amongst the players on the direction the club was going on the field -- with tactical rigidity and an inability to assimilate youth players and provide them regular playing time acting as particular sore points. The management was worried about the "evolution of the club" and had been weighing up this decision for a couple of months before finally acting late on Friday.

In their six years, this is the first instance of the club parting ways with a coach mid-season.

This was Lobera's third season at Goa, with the team finishing third and second in his first two seasons. In the 2018-19 season, Goa had reached the final only to lose 1-0 in extra time to Bengaluru FC. They would, though, win the Super Cup a month later.

This season, they had started slowly but a number of smashing wins -- the latest being a 4-2 hammering of Odisha away -- had seen them climb to the top of the table.

During his time there, Lobera had developed an expansive style of play, with Goa playing some of the most attractive football in the league. The fact that Goa lead the goal scoring charts this season, as they did in both of Lobera's previous seasons bears this out.

ESPN also understands that Derrick Perreira, the club's technical director, will be taking charge of the team for the rest of the season. Goa have three matches to play in the regular season, and with Bengaluru FC (two points behind) and ATK (three points behind but with a game in hand) hot on their heels, the coveted spot in the Asian Champions League that goes to the league stage winner is well and truly in the balance.