The Indian Super League side ATK Mohun Bagan is set to give their all in AFC Cup 2021 from August 18. Asian football’s second-tier club competition will be an opportunity for Mariners to win this glorious trophy.
The Kolkata based club are placed in Group D alongside Maziya S&RC from Maldives and Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh. The fourth club will be the winner of the qualifying playoff round, either Bengaluru FC or Club Eagles of Maldives.
The winners of the qualifying playoff round will face the Mariners in the first matchday. In their remaining two group matches, they line up against Maziya Sports & Recreation and Bashundhara Kings on August 21 and August 24, respectively. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the matches will be played in a centralized venue in the Maldives.
In a media interaction, the Spanish head coach Antonio Habas shared his thoughts on how ready the team is to compete in AFC Cup.
“My feeling now is that we have to work every day and prepare the team for the competition. We have to build a new team because we have had a lot of changes in the squad. We are training every day for our best presentation in the matches,” Habas said.
The hype ATK Mohun Bagan is getting is due to the players they have roped in, in the transfer window. The huge amount of cash the club spent in signing Liston Colaco and Hugo Boumous broke records. Also, some promising players like Ashutosh Mehta, Deepak Tangri and Bidyananda Singh were signed.
“We have to continue growing. Players come in and go out, so the magic word is ‘balance’ between one season and another.”
ATK Mohun Bagan bought in another experienced Finnish midfielder, namely Joni Kauko. The 31-year old put pen to paper shortly after Finland exited Euro 2020.
“Boumous is a very important player in the ISL. Joni Kauko is also an important player for us, for he has a good balance between defence and attack. These two foreign players are important for us for the next season.”
“Football is not all about attack or defence. It’s the balance. This is the saying. You have to find the balance between attack and defence. It’s the most important thing in football,” says Habas.
A major name that will be missing from the squad is Indian international defender Sandesh Jhingan. Jhingan is on his way to Croatia, who will be signing for HNK Sibenik soon.
“We can’t say anything before the competition. We will have to play first. I can’t give an opinion about the opponents before the competition. I will tell after the competition,” the head coach said.
“Covid and the circumstances are not good for us, but we have no other option. We have to adapt to the competition and the condition.”
“There is a competition waiting for us in the Maldives. And we have to prepare well,” Habas concluded.
For sure, ATK Mohun Bagan has an enormous campaign ahead. Will the club be able to register some notable wins remains the question!
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