ATK Mohun Bagan to win the ISL 2021-22 title?
Overall, it was a pretty fruitful campaign for the Green and Maroons, as they finished second in the league table, dominating right from the beginning, and missing out on the trophy only by a whisker.
Spanish tactician Habas will be back with his men for another season in the Indian top flight, as the team from Kolkata will hope to redeem themselves by lifting the coveted trophy this season. They are capable of outperforming any team on their day, with their team management doing a fine job of assembling a fantastic squad that has the perfect balance of youth and experience.
A look at last season’s performance
The Mariners were involved in a two-way title challenge with Mumbai City and they finished second in the regular league phase. In the semi-final, Habas’ men got the better of NorthEast United, but they faltered at the very last step.
Recently, the Mariners bowed out of the AFC Cup, after a humbling 6-0 defeat against Nasaf in the Inter-zonal semi-finals. They simply were no match for the Uzbek outfit and Habas will hope that his men can make a comeback in the upcoming ISL season.
New Signings ahead of the 2021-22 ISL season
ATK Mohun Bagan has made several changes to its roster during this year’s summer transfer window. They signed a couple of match-winners from Mumbai City in Amrinder Singh and Hugo Boumous. While the former will slot right in between the sticks, Boumous will look to partner the likes of Roy Krishna and David Williams in attack and be the creative nucleus of the team.
Other notable signings include Finland international Joni Kauko, who played in the UEFA European Championship 2020. The 31-year-old midfielder has experience of playing in the German second division, 2. Bundesliga, for FSV Frankfurt.
Kauko will add more steel to the already impenetrable ATK Mohun Bagan midfield, while his physical abilities will help his team dominate midfield duels. Domestic acquisitions like Deepak Tangri, Liston Colaco, and Ashutosh Mehta will also look to create an immediate impact after joining the Mariners this summer.
Predicted Starting Lineup
(4-2-3-1): Amrinder Singh; Ashutosh Mehta, Pritam Kotal, Tiri, Subhasish Bose; Lenny Rodrigues, Carl McHugh; Manvir Singh, Hugo Boumous, Liston Colaco; Roy Krishna
ATK Mohun Bagan’s management has kept their core intact, which happens to be one of their biggest strengths. The Kolkata-based team has been at their best under Habas and the decision to stick with him for another season is a no-brainer.
The Spaniard understands Indian football well and is also immensely experienced as a tactician. Besides that, the additions ATK Mohun Bagan have made to their squad this summer will only make the manager’s job easier.
The Mariners have got several match-winners in every department. They have a strong foreign contingent in the likes of Roy Krishna, David Williams, Hugo Boumous, and Tiri, among others. Their domestic players like Manvir Singh, Pritam Kotal, and Subhasish Bose have got plenty of international experience, having represented the national team regularly. Hence, the Mariners are rightfully termed as favorites ahead of the new Indian Super League season.
The defense has to be the chink in their armor. ATK Mohun Bagan have lost Sandesh Jhingan to Croatian outfit HNK Sibenik. They have not replaced him with someone of the same stature.
Whilst Deepak Tangri and Sumit Rathi are a couple of young and talented defenders, Habas prefers the former in a defensive midfield role with the latter often ignored and given a subdued role since Jhingan arrived at the club. So, the onus will fall on Tiri to marshall the backline, along with Pritam Kotal, Subhashish Bose, and Ashutosh Mehta.
ATKMB were without Tiri in the AFC Cup and they looked really shaky when put under pressure. It will be a big test for Habas to find the right combination in defense for the upcoming season as someone will have to step up and fill the void left by Jhingan, and also solidify the backline.
ATK Mohun Bagan has a balanced team with an arsenal of superstars and a very experienced coach in Antonio Habas. Their fans would be expecting nothing less than the ISL title from the Mariners in the upcoming season and the failure to win a trophy for two consecutive seasons would be considered as an underachievement for the star-studded squad.