ATK Mohun Bagan are Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 champions. 

At the start of the season, this was among the more expected outcomes. But as the campaign began to take shape, this seemed like a farfetched thought.

The Mariners always had the quality at their disposal but injuries and indifferent form of some of the key players meant head coach Juan Ferrando had to mend his ways to get ATK Mohun Bagan closer to their intended targets. 

From being an attack-minded team in Hero ISL 2021-22 that scored 39 goals in 22 matches, Mariners moulded themselves into an indomitable defensive force that managed to keep 12 clean sheets in 2022-23, twice the number they kept a year ago. 

This was down to their big drop in attacking numbers. The Mariners managed just 28 goals this season with only the bottom three teams scoring fewer goals than them this season. 

So, it is quite natural that ATK Mohun Bagan’s Hero ISL triumph would be attributed to their stellar defence and goalkeeper Vishal Kaith who won the Jindal Panther Golden Glove award.

But a closer look at numbers would reveal a much staggering picture. While the ATK Mohun Bagan defence did play a big hand in guiding them to glory, two players with their stellar attacking outputs almost single-handedly carried the Kolkata giants all the way. 

Dimitri Petratos and Hugo Boumous. The two players scored 17 out of the 28 goals that the Mariners netted this season which accounts for almost 61% of the total goals. This figure is significant in itself but their impact on the team goes deeper than this. 

Petratos and Boumous didn’t just score the goals but also created them, mostly for each other and for the rest of the teammates. The duo has had a direct contribution (have scored or assisted) in 24 out of the 28 goals scored by ATK Mohun Bagan which means they have had a direct impact on 86% of the goals that the team scored. 

There was not a single game this season in which the Kolkata giants scored a goal and neither Boumous nor Petratos record a goal contribution. So they have directly played a part in every point that the Mariners gained this season. Petratos and Boumous also scored all four of their goals in the knockout stage extending their impact in the crunch moments. 

What makes their contribution even more significant is the fact that the rest of the ATK Mohun Bagan attackers like Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh and Kiyan Nassiri weren’t at their best this season which meant that the two players had to share the burden of scoring goals all by themselves. 

The misfiring ATK Mohun Bagan attack meant that the duo had to succeed despite the opponents’ focusing their strategy on stopping the two players. 

The big players always have to stand up if the team has to go on and win the Hero ISL, such is the fierce competition and Boumous and Petratos did exactly that. But in a league that has seen some remarkable individual performances, the effort by Petratos and Boumous stands out tall. They pulled a team wriggled with injuries, playing at a level far from their best to the ultimate prize in Indian football despite facing daunting opposition on the way. 

Juan Ferrando will always dedicate the win to the entire team as football is a team sport but even he will know that he would not have a medal around his neck without the herculean effort of Petratos and Boumous, the driving force behind ATK Mohun Bagan’s title triumph.