ATK Mohun Bagan had a difficult start to the 22/23 season as they failed to make it beyond the group stages in the Durand Cup and were even knocked out in the Inter-Zonal Semi-Finals of the 2022 AFC Cup. But the Mariners still have a chance to show their credentials in the Indian Super League.
After investing heavily in the summer transfer window where they had completed the signings of some good quality Indian and foreign players, the Mariners will hope to make a statement at the end of the season by winning the ISL League Shield and the coveted ISL trophy this season.
Juan Ferrando is the man tasked to lead the Mariners to Glory. The 41-year-old Spaniard is among the youngest managers in the league, but don’t you dare mistake his age for his experience. Ferrando has a good pedigree in his managerial career which started relatively young as his playing career was shortlived due to an injury. The Barcelona-born coach has had ventures in numerous youth sides in Spain.
His first major assignment came in 2013 when was appointed as the manager of the Moldovan club Sherrif Tiraspol which played in the Europa League. He has also had a couple of stints with clubs in Greece. He has also managed Cultural Leonesa and Linares in the past. Ahead of the 2020/21 season, he was assigned as FC Goa’s manager and was also tasked to lead the club in their maiden AFC Champions League campaign.
He helped the Gaurs finish in the 3rd spot in the league table and in their AFC Champions League group. He even managed the club to win the Durand Cup later on. In the middle of the 2021/22 season, he joined the Mariners and replaced outgoing manager Antonio Habas during a difficult form for the club. Since then he turned around the club’s fortune and helped them finish in the playoffs but they narrowly lost out on the semi-finals.
ATK Mohun Bagan has signed three new foreign players for the upcoming season. Rest three foreign players have been retained while Tiri won’t be registered due to an injury. In the defense, there is Guinean defender Florentin Pogba who was signed from the French Ligue 2 club FC Sochaux. To accompany him in the backline there is another newcomer in Australian defender Brendan Hamill. Hamill has been signed from the Australian A-League club Melbourne Victory FC.
In the midfield, there is Finland International Joni Kauko who was brilliant in the league last season. Along with Kauko, there is 29-year-old Irish versatile midfielder Carl McHugh who has been instrumental in the team’s playing philosophy. There is also French-Moroccan attacking midfielder Hugo Adnan Boumous who is undoubtedly one of the best players in ISL history. Last but not least the club signed former Australia national team player Dimitri Petratos from the A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers. Petratos represented the Socceroos in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Indian players who have signed for the club include pacy and skillful winger Ashique Kuruniyan (signed from Bengaluru FC in a swap deal with Prabir Das), offensive full-back Ashish Rai (signed from Hyderabad FC for a transfer fee), goalkeeper Vishal Kaith (free transfer from Chennaiyin FC), and also midfielder Lalrinliana Hnamte and goalkeeper Debnath Mondal who were roped in on free transfers from the arch-rivals East Bengal FC.
Top Three Signings
The Top Three Signings for the Mariners are Dimitri Petratos, Ashique Kuruniyan, and Brendan Hamill.
The ATK Mohun Bagan players have had enough time to get settled into Ferrando’s philosophy after a full preseason and the Durand Cup, and the new signings such as Asish Rai and Ashique Kuruniyan have hit the ground running with good performances. They have a strong Indian core with experienced national team players at their disposal. All the foreigners carry quite the pedigree as well.
ATK Mohun Bagan has put forth a disappointing show in both the Durand Cup and the AFC Cup. It seemed as though a genuine center-forward is missing in the loop. Senior Indian attackers have at times looked a bit toothless in front of the goal as well. The new foreign center-backs, Pogba and Hamill are yet to adapt to the Indian footballing conditions. The core lacks a quality box-to-box domestic midfielder.
Probable Starting XI
The club led by coach Juan Ferrando has a lot of expectations from the fans on their shoulders. After failing to make their mark in the Durand Cup and in the AFC Cup, the Mariners have a huge task in hand to win the rest of the competitions they are still participating. Anything less than securing a trophy at the end of the season will be considered an utter failure for the Kolkata Maidaan-based side.
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