Defending Indian Super League (ISL) champions Mumbai City FC have announced that Sergio Lobera will be stepping down as the head coach to continue his coaching journey with the City Football Group (CFG). Des Buckingham, former Melbourne City FC coach, will be joining the team ahead of the 2021-22 season on a two-year contract. 

Lobera joined the club in October 2020 and oversaw the most successful campaign ever when the Islanders 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.  

After a highly decorated spell in India, Sergio will now be leaving the country to join CFG to work on a fresh challenge. 

Joining from Melbourne City FC where he worked as an assistant coach to Patrick Kisnorbo, Englishman Des Buckingham 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. He had had a perfect winning record during the stint. 

“We are delighted to welcome Des to Mumbai City," said Kandarp Chandra, CEO of Mumbai City FC. "He is an exciting young coach who already has years of experience under his belt. He is incredibly 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 very confident that Des is the right choice for Mumbai and we can’t wait to work with him. 

“Similarly 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. We wish him and his lovely family every success for a bright and happy future in his new endeavours.” 

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 and also worked as an assistant coach to the All Whites’ first team for a brief period.

Highly acclaimed for his work with the New Zealand age-group sides, 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.

“I am thrilled to be joining Mumbai City at such a successful period in the Club’s history," said New Mumbai City Head Coach, Des Buckingham. 

"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.

Featured photo: Mumbai City FC