The Mariners begin their campaign in the continental tournament on August 18.

ATK Mohun Bagan will embark on their first-ever AFC Cup campaign soon. The Mariners have been placed in an interesting group with neighboring opponents. They will face Bangladeshi giants Basudhara Kings, Maldives side Maziya S&C and the winners of the playoffs match between Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles.

Antonio Habas would, obviously, want to travel with his strongest squad. However, certain restrictions on foreign players can cause him a headache. For the AFC Cup, the Kolkata-based outfit have six foreign players to choose from. The majority have already arrived in India to practice with the squad. However, they need to trim that to four, including one from the AFC member countries.

The Spanish tactician is determined to go far into the AFC Cup. As a result, he will only choose the foreigners best suited to help the Mariners go all the way. So, which foreigners should ATK Mohun Bagan field in the AFC Cup games? Let’s find out.

Roy Krishna

Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way quickly. The Mariners made a grand announcement of Roy Krishna’s contract extension for next season on Mohun Bagan Day. The Fijian remains the most important player behind their success and has to be at his very best to succeed in the AFC Cup.

Krishna will be Habas’ most potent weapon in the continental tournament. The striker has already proven his quality over the last two seasons in the ISL, having scored 29 goals for Habas’ side. Krishna is the kind of striker who doesn’t need many chances to score.

With his clinical instincts in the final third, finishing ability and excellent movement, he can terrorize any defence. It’s safe to say that Krishna is expected to lead the line for ATK Mohun Bagan in the AFC Cup games. He will also need to be at his very best for them to prosper, as he must create chances as well as score when the need arises.

Hugo Boumous

The prized signing of ATK Mohun Bagan, Boumous is expected to make his debut in the AFC Cup. The midfielder has already started to train with his new teammates in India and is preparing for the competition. Surprisingly, despite impressive stints with FC Goa and Mumbai City, he has never played in an AFC competition.

Well, Boumous can change that by playing with the Mariners next month. They broke the bank for Boumous for a reason. He has been brought in to shine on the biggest stages. Because of his clever link-up play and unique skillset, Boumous should blend right into the Mariners’ style and help Krishna & Co.

He has proven his quality with his amazing performances in recent ISL seasons. With his creativity, ability to split open defences with passes and energy in the final third, he will be ATKMB’s playmaker. Habas will hope his new signing can make a huge impact from the get-go and use his unpredictable style to bring plenty of goals and assists.

Joni Kauko

After participating at Euro 2020, Joni Kauko is also expected to be a part of ATK Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup squad. The Finland international was signed by Habas because of his experience in prominent cup competitions and versatile skillset.

Because of his involvement at Euro 2020, Kauko is match-fit and sharp enough to thrive in the pressure of AFC Cup games. He can play all across the midfield and even take on an advanced role, if needed. Unlike the defensively strong Carl McHugh, Kauko can fulfill multiple roles responsibly and should edge the Irishman to the squad.

It’s because of his versatility, impressive passing ability, defensive sturdiness and creativity that he will mostly make the cut. The 31-year-old should help ATKMB take control of games with his knowledge and experience, as well as help to get the ball to the forwards quickly with his clever distribution skills.

David Williams

Upon selecting Krishna, Kauko and Boumous, ATK Mohun Bagan will only have one foreign spot. However, it’ll be that Asian quota one – in which only Australian forward David Williams fits. To Habas’ credit, he has some very strong and experienced Indian defenders who should fill Tiri’s void.

Kauko should fit in for McHugh or an Indian midfielder like Lenny Rodrigues, Pronay Halder or Sk Sahil can play with the Finnish star. However, Williams’ selection will be well justified because of how well he’s performed in the big games for the Mariners.

Last season, he excelled in the playoffs and against prominent opposition. He has the knack of firing up his side in difficult situations. With his intelligent off-the-ball movement, physicality and sharp finishing, the Australian forward is very well suited for the AFC Cup games.

Moreover, Williams also has an intuitive bond with Krishna – which can help ATKMB reap big rewards in scoring goals. The two are as thick as thieves on the pitch and have a telepathic understanding with each other.

With their link-up play, movement and smart product in the final third, they can terrorize defenders. If the duo of Krishna-Williams and creative playmaker Boumous can form a special bond, they should create plenty of fireworks for the Mariners and help them go far into the competition.

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