Bhaichung Bhutia: Expectations are going to be huge for ATK Mohun Bagan

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2020-21 will mark a new chapter in Indian football as the recently merged ATK Mohun Bagan FC take the field in India’s top division for the first time. Indian football legends Bhaichung Bhutia and Renedy Singh know a thing or two about representing the Kolkata heavyweights having played for Mohun Bagan during their career.

The Sikkimese Sniper as Bhutia is affectionately known feels that the merger is an important step and that keeping the maroon and green colours of the club will strike the right chord with fans. “It was a very important step, especially for fans to connect, the colors (of the club) are very important. They have done the right thing (to keep the colours and logo of the club). At the same time the logo is also very important,” Bhutia told Anant Tyagi during an interview.

“It’s a part of the team and it's a big legacy for many of the fans because that logo has been there for a very long time. So, to start off with, it's a great initiative and a great decision that ATK Mohun Bagan has taken. Green and maroon are colours which all Mohun Bagan fans around the world would associate with, and that definitely is a great step,” he added.

Aware of the weight of expectation that comes with donning the green and maroon jersey, Bhutia opined, “Expectations are going to be huge but as a player it's very important that there is pressure from the fans. If they look at it as a support, it really gives you that extra 20% that you really require for the end of the game. That support is very important. You feel that especially when you play at home. Playing at home is about getting used to the ground conditions, but most important it’s the fans around that really inspires you and gives you that extra motivation to play.”

Bhutia’s former international teammate and another ex-Mohun Bagan player Renedy Singh also weighed in with his thoughts on the pressure and expectations that await ATK Mohun Bagan’s players in the upcoming Hero ISL campaign.

“Players will be able to see in their pre-season itself how much pressure they have to face. When playing for Mohun Bagan or East Bengal and you don't score in the first half, the (fans) get very angry. The players will feel this with Mohun Bagan coming in and I'm sure that's a good pressure. We played for so many years and we have taken that pressure. That pressure will make your game better,” Renedy said.

The former Indian international also expressed his excitement while discussing his ex-club’s massive fan base. “We all know that Mohun Bagan has a huge fan following, we all see how many fans turn out for a derby match. ATK and Mohun Bagan joining together, it's a big festival for the fans to come back, and I'm really looking forward to it having formerly been a player (at Mohun Bagan) for many years. I would want to start as soon as possible, and we can enjoy the game of football,” Renedy enthused.

Like Renedy, Bhaichung also struck an enthusiastic tone while discussing ATK Mohun Bagan’s future. “It's going to be great for the Hero ISL as well as for Calcutta football. It's a good step for a team to want to come together. I’m very excited, and hopefully ATK and the directors of this company are going to use the legacy, the identity and the fans across the world. So, if the club can utilize and connect with the fans, you know it's going to be a win-win situation,” he stated.

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