Kauko hoping to adapt to conditions and ATK Mohun Bagan’s style of play before long
ATK Mohun Bagan’s Joni Kauko believes adapting to the hot and humid conditions of Kolkata has been a challenge for him so far but he is getting better by the day. The midfielder is training with the team in the City of Joy ahead of their matches in the AFC Cup (Group D, South Zone) -- scheduled to be held in the Maldives.
“After the first training I was very much worried because it was too much for a northern guy who is used to snow and cold. But now in the second week, I feel much better, it will take some time to adapt but day by day it’s getting better,” he told the ATK Mohun Bagan Media Team.
The 31-year-old, who joined the Kolkata giants in late June shortly after Finland exited Euro 2020, is also confident of falling in line with the Mariners’ style of play before long. “I think I am able to adapt very well to different styles and leagues so I hope it won’t take that long,” he said.
Kauko, whose signing had created a lot of buzz in Indian football, expressed his admiration for head coach Antonio Lopez Habas who led the team to the 2020-21 Hero ISL final in what was also their debut season in the league. “We have been training hard for a while now, which is a good thing and I hope I will adapt well to his playing style. I can see his passion for football and that’s always a thing that I respect,” he said.
The Finn also gave a thumbs-up to the Mariners’ squad which boasts the likes of Hugo Boumous, Hero ISL winner with Mumbai City FC in 2020-21, and Roy Krishna, Hero ISL winner with ATK FC in 2019-20. “I haven’t seen any of the other teams but I believe we have a very strong squad. Good mix of different types of players who can bring a lot of quality on the pitch,” Kauko said.
He hopes his Euro experience helps his team-mates immeasurably over the course of the AFC Cup. “Of course, when you play in big tournaments at high level, it will help you to bring along some of that experience and I hope I am able to help the whole group with the experience that I have,” he said.
Kauko, who featured in all three games for Finland in Euro 2020, also let on about his preferred role on the field of play. “Depends which system we are playing but I hope I will have a big impact on attack as a box-to-box midfielder. It’s pretty rare to have a midfielder who can score a lot of goals and I hope I will be able to do that here also like I have done in the past 3 years in Denmark [in Esbjerg colours],” he said.
In their first match on August 18, ATK Mohun Bagan play the winners of the play-off tie between fellow Hero ISL side Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles from the Maldives. In their remaining two group matches, they line up against Maziya Sports & Recreation and Bashundhara Kings on August 21 and August 24 respectively.