Ashique Kuruniyan interview: ATK Mohun Bagan's amazing fans were a big factor in my move to the club
India and ATK Mohun Bagan winger Ashique Kuruniyan is looking to grow as a player at his new club having moved to Kolkata after spending three seasons at Bengaluru FC.
The winger joined the Mariners ahead of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season and is looking to join up with Indian teammates Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh in what could be an all-Indian attacking line-up at ATK Mohun Bagan.
Ashique who has played in positions ranging from centre-forward to left-back at his previous club will add versatility to Juan Ferrando’s squad but his recent performances in an attacking role with the Indian national team at the third round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers have suggested that he is best suited in a front three.
With a longer domestic calendar ahead, Ashique hopes to be in prime condition when India play the AFC Asian Cup and feels he will head into the tournament as an improved player as he would have to up his level to compete for a place at ATK Mohun Bagan.
Ashique gave an exclusive interview to indiansuperleague.com after his move to ATK Mohun Bagan.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
You have said that the longer domestic calendar this season will be the best preparation for the AFC Asian Cup. How beneficial will be the increased number of matches for the development of a player like you?
Yes, I believe a longer season will definitely help us players. It will provide us with not only more games but also more time on the training pitch, enabling us to learn and grow further from a technical, tactical and physical standpoint.
What was the key factor in making the switch to ATK Mohun Bagan after spending three seasons at Bengaluru FC?
Well this club has shown genuine interest in me for quite sometime now and I just felt it was the right time in my career to make the move. ATKMB have huge ambitions and will always be in the hunt for trophies whether in India or in the Asian continental level. Another deciding factor is obviously been the massive fan base and support that the club has, it’s so important for a player to feel the love and support from such wonderful football fans.
— ATK Mohun Bagan FC (@atkmohunbaganfc) June 21, 2022
You played on the wings and even as a defender at Bengaluru FC. Do you expect to play a more advanced role at ATK Mohun Bagan? Have you had a word with Juan Ferrando about your role in the team?
Yes, I have spoken with coach Juan while signing at the club and we did have discussions with regards to my position and role. I would definitely be glad to play in an advanced position but like I have also informed our coach, I am ready to play whereever he and the team needs me to play as long as we work for the team and help the team achieve our targets.
ATKMB has the chance to win five pieces of silverware this season including the AFC Cup and Hero ISL double. How exciting is it for a player to be involved in multiple quality competitions?
Like I just said, it’s an honour to be at this club where we will keep pushing and fighting to win titles in various competitions that we will participate in. More competitions, equals more games; that will definitely help us all improve as players.
How was your experience playing in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers?
It was magnificent experience getting back to national team duty and playing a part in helping our country qualify for the Asian Cup.
Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, and the fans, what was your experience like?
Again it was stunning to witness the support the national team had while playing in Kolkata at the Salt Lake Stadium. Those matches will live on in our memories and as players we always dream of such nights playing in front of amazing fans.
How do you analyse the growth of Indian football and the role of Hero ISL in that?
Well, Hero ISL has helped in the growth of Indian football. We have seen improvements in the stadium playing surface, training pitches, accommodation, also on the conditioning and nutrition front, there is so much that we have gotten to learn. Also with the coaches and foreign players coming into the league that has always helped us grow and turn into better players.