Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko marked his comeback during Mohun Bagan Super Giant's 2-0 win over Hyderabad FC in Matchweek 14 of the Indian Super League (ISL) last week.

Kauko has rekindled his association with Mohun Bagan SG after a hiatus of almost 16 months, committing to a deal that extends until the conclusion of the season. His initial involvement in the 2022-23 season was curtailed by a knee injury, forcing him to miss the remainder of the campaign. The Finnish international, who had previously showcased his skills in the 2020 Euro Championships, first joined the Mariners in the 2021-22 season.

Following his recovery from the injury, Kauko's recent signing with Mohun Bagan SG marks his second stint with the club. Renowned for his versatility and leadership qualities demonstrated on the pitch during his previous tenure with the Mariners, the midfielder has garnered a substantial fan following. His return to action at the iconic VYBK Stadium, amidst the cheers of thousands of home fans, was an emotional moment for Kauko. 

“I feel really good. I'm really happy that I came back and also very happy that we won the game as well,” Kauko told

In the encounter against Hyderabad FC, Kauko entered the field in the second half, substituting Sahal Abdul Samad, and left a notable impact. Reflecting on the game, the midfielder acknowledged the team's strong performance against Hyderabad FC. Despite expressing satisfaction with securing three points, he also remarked on the team's missed opportunities, suggesting that they could have clinched victory by a more significant margin had they capitalised on their chances.

“I think we started really strong. We could score even more goals,” he said.

“Usually in these types of games, when the game is already 2-0, the game opens up a little bit, and then very often the game just goes from side to side. I think the second half was that type of game, where the game was really open and both teams were creating numerous half chances. Overall, I'm really happy with our performance. I think we did what we had to do. We won the game, and that was the goal,” he continued.

He was overwhelmed to see how the supporters encouraged him by chanting his name on his return to the club. He conveyed his gratitude and thanked all the supporters for their warm welcome and continuous support.

“I'm really grateful for all the fans. It's been a while since I played any competitive match like this, so I'm really, really happy for that, and I really appreciate it. I'm really grateful for every single fan who was there chanting my name, chanting for the team, and especially for me individually. It really gives me more and more power. It gives me more things to keep working harder and play for the team,” he shared.

He further said: “I've trained for a few weeks, and of course, the competitive match is always different. You have to do a little bit of different things during the game. Overall, I'm happy, but a little bit irritated about missing my opportunity. I think I should have done better on that. That would have been even better to score a goal in the comeback match. I will keep working harder. Hopefully, I will be able to perform even better in the future."

Kauko's comeback to the team marked a reunion with head coach Antonio Habas, with whom he had previously collaborated during the 2021-22 season. The midfielder is optimistic about the advantages of his familiarity with Habas's style of play, believing it will facilitate a smoother adjustment to the team dynamics. Notably, Kauko had initially made his ISL debut under the guidance of head coach Antonio Lopez Habas in 2021.

“I was already here in my first season with Antonio Habas. I know the way he plays; I know how he thinks about football and what he wants from me. So, I'm trying to do what he expects from me,” he stated.

“Of course, my role is probably not going to be exactly the same as it was before. I will try and do my best for the team to win the games, and that's the most important,” he added.

Kauko opened up about the emotional journey he experienced during his recovery days after the injury. He spoke about the challenging times and how the heartfelt messages from the team's supporters played a crucial role in sustaining his mental strength.

“During my injury, I've been getting a lot of messages from everyone through social media,” he said.

“It's been a long time since I last played. I really missed it. I'm really grateful for all the messages, all the chanting, everything. It has helped me a lot. I've been trying to work hard, and I’m hopeful that I can keep working even harder and perform for the team to make it better,” he continued.

Mohun Bagan SG is gearing up for a formidable challenge in their upcoming clash against FC Goa, the only unbeaten side in the league. The Mariners are well aware of the tough task ahead, especially considering FC Goa's dominant performance in the reverse fixture, where they secured a convincing 4-1 victory in Kolkata. Kauko is anticipating a demanding contest, acknowledging the stature of both teams. The midfielder recognises the intensity of the impending battle and expects a hard-fought match between two formidable opponents.

“Overall, I hope that we can continue this winning momentum. There have been some games that we haven't won, so I think this was a really good game where we got some goals, we got the win, and I feel like the confidence in the team is really good at the moment. So, I think it's going to be a great game where two good teams face each other. It's going to be a really good game,” he signed off.