Mumbai City appoints Des Buckingham as head coach

Des Buckingham pictured at his previous coaching stint

Mumbai City has appointed former Wellington Pheonix and New Zealand U-23 head coach as the new manager with Sergio Lobera stepping down as the Islanders’ head coach to continue his coaching journey with the City Football Group.

After signing for the Islanders, 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 Buckingham is known for his stint with the U-23 New Zealand team as he helped them qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics courtesy of a 12-match unbeaten run. The young coach has also managed Wellington Pheonix whilst serving as the assistant manager at Melbourne City during the 2020-21 A-League season.

Buckingham was a goalkeeper in the Reading and Oxford United youth setup but the Englishman decided to not take the route of becoming a professional player and started focusing on earning his coaching licenses. 

After spending a decade coaching in the youth setup of Oxford United and serving as the manager of A-League side Pheonix, Buckingham became the assistant manager at Stoke City under Mark Hughes.

Also read: Mumbai City signs former Goa goalkeeper Mohammad Nawaz 

Buckingham has arrived in India and is currently undergoing the quarantine procedure and will be soon available to take charge of the Mumbai City camp for the upcoming Indian Super League season.

Kandarp Chandra, the CEO of Mumbai City, feels that the appointment of the Englishman will take the club in the right direction.

He 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. 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.”

Brian Marwood, the managing director of global football at City Football Group (CFG) also feels that the Englishman is ready for the job and praised his previous work at Melbourne City as well.

He said,

“Des is an extremely impressive coach who has done an excellent job supporting Patrick Kisnorbo in Melbourne. He is particularly strong dealing with young and emerging players and the Head Coach role at Mumbai City is a step he is ready for. He is well versed in the style of football that the team plays and will continue the fantastic work which Sergio (Lobera) has done.”

Also read: Mumbai City break ISL transfer record to sign Apuia from NorthEast United 

The former Goa and Mumbai City manager Sergio Lobera has stepped down from his position as the manager of Mumbai City after leading them to a first-ever double of winning the ISL League Winners’ Shield and the ISL Trophy.

Sergio Lobera wrote an emotional farewell letter to his squad and fans on Twitter that said,

“I want to say a huge thank you to all of you for your constant support. To go through a season like no other and to come out on top takes incredible commitment and effort from the entire group, and I am proud of having lived it with the Mumbai City family. I wish everyone at Mumbai City every success moving forward.”

Read the emotional goodbye letter in full here 

Mr. Chandra, CEO of Mumbai City thanked Lobera for his services to the club and for laying a great foundation for the club for the upcoming season of the ISL.

He said,

“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 endeavors.”

Mr. Marwood, MD of global football at CFG also spoke about Lobera and is delighted to retain his services whilst offering him a new challenge at the same time.

He concluded,

“Whilst Sergio’s time in India has come to an end, I am delighted that he has chosen to continue with City Football Group in a fresh challenge and we are very pleased that we will be able to keep working together”.