ATK Mohun Bagan gems Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, raise national glory hopes

For the setup which already boasts of two top strikers in recent times in the Hero ISL, it was hardly anticipated that Indian forwards would play an anchor role in keeping the scores ticking. But, as we all know, football and fate - works in mysterious ways!

Leave aside one, two local talents have risen up to the occasion and contradicted the general norms and in some moments overshadowed their more fancied counterparts - a rarity in the competition. For the moment - Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh are treasured by the ATK Mohun Bagan fans and are the rays of hope for Indian football faithfuls.

The new foreign player rule tweak has opened broader avenues for more Indian footballers to showcase their talent. It had already cut-off the luxury to use David Williams and Roy Krishna simultaneously, which was much more than an invitation for the locals. Williams, not having the best of seasons was a worry, while Roy Krishna’s injury meant double trouble.

What was apparently meant as a supporting act to the main characters, found themselves at the forefront. Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh were ambitious to rewrite the script in their own way. Backed by mastermind Juan Ferrando, the Indian duo has already achieved lofty standards and it has evoked further expectations from all corners.

For the records, Liston Colaco is the highest Indian goalscorer in the Hero ISL 2021-22 with seven strikes. Meanwhile, Manvir Singh is the joint-second with Bipin Singh, both of them breaching the net a total of five times.

The duo have netted 36.36% of the goals scored out of the 33 scored by ATK Mohun Bagan, which speaks for itself. It has also elated the overall exploits, with the Indian players registering 51.51% of the goals for the Mariners, the most for any team.

However, if we take goal contributions into the equation, their impact becomes more visible.

Liston Colaco has a direct involvement in 30.30% of the goals (seven goals and three assists) scored by the Mariners, which is the highest for any player from the side this season. On the other hand, Manvir Singh is responsible for 18.18% of the goals (five goals and one assist) scored by ATK Mohun Bagan.

Moreover, the attacking mindset of the players is what makes the duo so lethal and their acceleration in the last few games, especially after the void left by Roy Krishna, has forced everyone to pay attention. Out of the seven goals scored by the Mariners in their matches (all in winning causes), six came from the boots of Liston and Manvir!

"I just think it's just their movement - Manvir and Liston. The players are really intimidated now when Liston gets the bull, like they give him too much respect and too much time. And when he gets his head down and he starts dribbling with a ball, there's none better in the league than him. He's very, very exciting to watch. He's got an end product. Now, he's showing maturity in his game," said Erik Paartalu, during an interaction with the Hero Indian Super League.

"But for Manvir, he is often overlooked in that squad because of the likes of Krishna, Williams, Boumous [Hugo] taking the highlights, but Manvir is more than capable of producing something special," added the former Bengaluru FC player.

Liston, with 61 shots, leads the pack in this department for any player in the Hero ISL 2021-22, and is followed by Jorge Ortiz (59 shots) and Bartholomew Ogbeche (55 shots). Manvir Singh, on the other hand has taken 38 shots, the second most by an ATK Mohun Bagan player, after Liston. They also lead the charts in most final-third touches for their side - Liston Colaco (380 touches) and Manvir Singh (342 touches).

Their development sky-rockets hopes in the broader picture, with respect to Indian football. An eternal hunt for a proper goalscorer in the national team to cater the post Sunil Chhetri-era might finally come to rest. It’s not that they’ve not been handed opportunities, especially Manvir, who donned the Blue Tigers’ jersey quite a few times, but with the evolution in process, we are expecting to witness refined versions of the footballers.

"Massive. It can have a massive impact on the Indian national football team. As long as they're selected. But, I'm pretty sure they will be. The opportunity and the ability to play them anywhere across the frontline, if he wants to play one up-top, if he wants to play two up-top, if he's playing with three attacking players. just behind that. If he's playing a 4, 4, 2, if he's playing a 3, 5, 2, they can fit into the system," stated Paul Masefield.

"And I think we saw over the last couple of games that they have played, that they can both play up top. They've got pace to kill people in behind, and that's one of the most important things. So, if Igor Stimac ever went with the three at the back, they could still both play in the side and be very, very influential."

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