Players excited as ATK Mohun Bagan all set to fly on Saturday morning for AFC Cup
2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) finalists ATK Mohun Bagan will fly to the Maldives on Saturday morning to participate in the AFC Cup (Group D, South Zone) from August 18 onwards, the Kolkata-based club said on Friday.
The Mariners have been training in the ‘City of Joy’ nearly two weeks now. In a massive boost to their chances, star striker David Williams, who scored in their 2-1 defeat to Mumbai City FC in the 2020-21 Hero ISL final, has joined the club and will fly out along with the team tomorrow. "David has practised well. I told the footballers that we are going to play in an international tournament. You have to work hard, you have to give your best,” head coach Antonio Lopez Habas said.
Hugo Boumous, one of the club’s seven new signings since the defeat in the final, was excited ahead of the AFC Cup games. "I am thrilled to think that I am going to play in an international tournament wearing the jersey of a traditional Indian club. …The first match is very important in any tournament. If we can win, it will be easy to move forward,” he said.
Another new joinee from Mumbai City FC, goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, who played in the 2016 AFC Cup final with Bengaluru FC, said he wants to go one better this time with the Mariners. “I have played twice in the AFC Cup in another club's jersey. We have been runners-up once. This time we are going to Maldives to become the champion. The way we have prepared and as we have a strong team, we have a chance to become champions.”
Roy Krishna, Hero of the League last season after scoring 14 goals and providing 8 assists, will be featuring in the prestigious continental club competition for the first time in his career and he wants to make it count, make no mistake. "I will play in the AFC Cup for the first time. It is a golden opportunity to establish the club on the map of Asia. I have no idea about the opponent teams. However, the clubs of all the countries will be prepared. I am also hopeful that our team will do well. Our first goal is to go to the next round," he said.
Pritam Kotal and Manvir Singh weighed in with their thoughts too ahead of the competition. "I have played in the AFC Cup twice. Once we even reached the second round. This time our club is stronger. We have seven footballers from the national team. The best foreigners are in the team. We will play to become the champion,” said Kotal.
"I have scored goals for the country in the international tournaments …But I never played in the AFC Cup. I will play [this time], wearing the green-maroon jersey. It is a different feeling. I have to score goals. We have to win. I am not thinking of becoming the champion now. The goal is to reach the next round,” said Manvir.
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. In their remaining two group matches, they line up against Maziya Sports & Recreation and Bashundhara Kings on August 21 and August 24 respectively.