ATK Mohun Bagan is all set to kick off their AFC Cup group stage campaign and the team is looking in good shape to take on their first continental tournament head-on. There are plenty of positive things unfolding for the Mariners ahead of this major tournament.
Let’s find out how Antonio Lopez Habas’ team are shaping up ahead of the AFC Cup group stage and which factors can prove to be the difference for them this time around.
AMRINDER SINGH IS A MARINER
The man who lifted both the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) Shield and the trophy in 2020-21, Amrinder Singh has signed a massive five-year contract with the Mariners. ATK Mohun Bagan’s shot-stopper Arindam Bhattacharja was the Golden Glove winner in the previous Hero ISL season and led his team to the final of the tournament. This season he’ll have to compete for the number one spot against one of India’s best keepers on current form. This battle would be one to look forward to in the AFC Cup 2021.
BUILDING A STRONG INDIAN CORE
In the recent FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the Asian Cup Qualifiers, we saw quite a few ATK Mohun Bagan players play a key role in India progressing to the next round of the Asian Cup Qualifiers. Players like Subhashish Bose, Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco and Pritam Kotal put in some solid performances for the national team. Habas would be hoping that these players could carry their form in the upcoming AFC Cup as well, especially when the Spanish coach would be forced to field more Indian players due to the rules of the competition.
IMPRESSIVE DEALS IN THE TRANSFER MARKET
After completing the signings of Amrinder Singh and Liston Colaco earlier in the year, ATK Mohun Bagan went out of their way to sign two incredibly exciting players in Finland’s Joni Kauko and the league’s leading assists man, Hugo Boumous from Mumbai City FC. The transfer window has been extremely positive for the Mariners and the fact that we would see these incredible players in action in one of Asia’s top competitions is surreal.
KEY PLAYERS EXTENDING THEIR STAY
For any football club as much as new signings are important, it is equally important that they keep hold of their star players from previous seasons. The Mariners have done exactly that as the three pillars in the team from the previous season, midfield general Carl McHugh, Aussie superstar David Williams and the record-breaker Roy Krishna, have all extended their respective contracts with the club.
A FAMILIAR FOE IN THE GROUP STAGE
The fourth team in ATK Mohun Bagan’s group in the AFC Cup was a mystery for the longest time as the winner of the playoffs was to join them in group D. The playoff match between Maldives’ Club Eagles and a familiar name in Indian football, Bengaluru FC was an exciting one where the former Hero ISL champions Bengaluru emerged on top. It means that the Mariners would face a fellow Indian team in the AFC Cup opener on Wednesday.
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