Hero ISL 2022-23, ATK Mohun Bagan preview: After near misses, star-studded Mariners eye first silverware
ATK Mohun Bagan are the only Hero Indian Super League (ISL) club to reach the semi-finals in each of the last two seasons but on both occasions, they have failed to bring the trophy home.
The semi-final hurdle has proved to be too big to overcome for the Mariners who have in both these campaigns competed for the League Winners Shield till the final day of the league phase, only to miss out on it both times.
Last season they were pipped by Jamshedpur FC on the final day a year after Mumbai City FC bagged pole position in the league with a win over the Mariners on the final day.
Hero ISL 2020-21 - 2nd Place (Finalist)
Hero ISL 2022-22 - 3rd Place (Semi-finalist)
But it hasn’t stopped ATK Mohun Bagan from trying even harder and their activity in the transfer market suggests that the Kolkata giants are more determined than ever to take this final step this season.
In Juan Ferrando, they have a head coach who is extremely astute tactically and one that is capable of turning their star players into a well-oiled team.
The early indications for the Mariners haven’t been as promising as expected as the club exited the AFC Cup and Durand Cup fairly prematurely than what the fans would have hoped for.
However, with a squad full of quality players, ATK Mohun Bagan are expected to be strong contenders again.
Team combination and transfer dealings
With an average age of just above 25, the Mariners have the perfect age profile for a team that wants to go out there and win every trophy available to them. Only five players in the squad are above the age of 30, but a lot of their younger players like Liston Colaco have plenty of experience under their belt despite their young age.
There have been three major foreign signings in Florentin Pogba, Brendan Hamill and Dimitri Petratos who bring in experience from different parts of the world. The Indian acquisitions have been solid too as Ashique Kuruniyan, Asish Rai and Lalrinliana Hnamte have strengthened their local contingent.
Ferrando’s biggest challenge will be picking the right foreign players. But with the strength and depth they have in this department, it will be a good headache to have for the Spaniard.
INs: Dimitri Petratos, Florentin Pogba, Vishal Kaith, Lalrinliana Hnamte, Debnath Mondal, Ashique Kuruniyan, Brendan Hamill, Asish Rai.
OUTs: Roy Krishna, David Williams, Sandesh Jhingan, Amrinder Singh, Gursimrat Singh Gill, Bidyanada Singh, SK Sahil, Michael Soosairaj, Prabir Das, Ashutosh Mehta.
To see the full squad of ATK Mohun Bagan, click here
Paul Masefield on ATK Mohun Bagan squad: As has been the case for the past few seasons, you look at the ATKMB squad before a ball has been kicked and feel that this squad has been assembled to win the league. And with the addition of the ‘A’ team (Asish Rai & Ashique Kuruniyan), ATKMB will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
Paul Masefield on ATK Mohun Bagan’s transfers: With the arrival of Rai and Ashique, ATKMB have added pace and experience to an already impressive squad. These two can cause defences all sorts of problems. This also gives them options and competition for places in the starting XI as Manvir Singh and Colaco did and stepped up for the team last season.
Bringing in the defensive experience of Hamill and Pogba means they are looking to keep things tight at the back. With the additions that ATKMB have made, all the ingredients are now there for Ferrando, he just has to find the right recipe.
Paul Masefield’s ATK Mohun Bagan players to watch out for:
Liston Colaco: On occasion, he was unplayable last season. His pace, trickery and finishing make him one of the most exciting players in the league.
Joni Kauko: He has gotten better and better every minute of every game he played. His ability to pick a pass and get on the end of things as well makes him a threat when he arrives from deeper positions.
ATK Mohun Bagan begin their campaign with a home game against Chennaiyin FC on October 10. Their final league stage match of the season will be the Kolkata derby against East Bengal FC on February 25. The first Kolkata derby will be held on October 29.
For the full fixture list of ATK Mohun Bagan, click here.
Paul Masefield’s verdict on ATK Mohun Bagan: I expect ATKMB to go very very close this season to winning everything. On paper, they have the squad to win it. On the field, Fernando has to find his best XI to go and win it.
If ATKMB fail to win the shield or the Championship this season it will be down to Ferrando. They have the team to do it but the million dollar question is, will they?