The club will field a mix of proven Spanish and Asian talents in the upcoming season.
It’s a new dawn for ATK Mohun Bagan in the Indian Super League (ISL), with the new power alliance from Kolkata all set to take charge for the first time in the upcoming 2020-21 season. While there will be new colours, a new logo and a new feel to the whole team, the players will mostly be the old ones that helped ATK win the competition last campaign.
With Antonio Habas trusting to go with the majority of his foreigners that worked well last season, only two new overseas signings have been made by the Green and Maroons. It is a mix of Spanish and Asian talents that will add some dynamic firepower to ATK Mohun Bagan next term.
After spending the last three seasons at Jamshedpur FC, Tiri is back at the club which gave him fame in India. The last time he played for them, ATKMB were still known as Atletico de Kolkata – with the Spaniard winning the 2016 ISL title. He now comes back with precious experience, having proven himself as one of sturdiest defenders in ISL in recent years. Tiri will strengthen Habas’ backline even more with his no-nonsense defensive style. He proved his mettle by averaging more than nine clearances and two tackles per game last season.
The Spaniard’s aerial prowess, knowledge of when to commit to challenges and bully forwards will definitely help add more steel to Habas’ unit. While Tiri does tend to make some silly errors and get caught out of position at times, the stacked backline of ATKMB will give him added protection.
The Irishman was riddled with bad luck last season, with a nasty injury ruling him out for the entirety of the ISL after featuring and scoring in ATKMB’s first game of the campaign. Fortunately, McHugh has a made full recovery and will look to be the midfield general this time around. The former Motherwall midfielder has loads of experience playing in Britain, but his versatility will be the biggest asset for Habas. While naturally a midfielder, McHugh can slot in as a centre-back and full-back as well, if needed.
Not only is his passing ability really smooth, but he is a hard-hitting player who loves to make crunching tackles, making key interceptions and getting the ball up the field. He’ll be key towards protecting ATKMB’s backline. If fit, he will feature on a more regular basis in the heart of the Mariners’ midfield, dictating things and acting as the destroyer to stop opponents from penetrating into their area.
Javi Hernandez acted as the creative engine of the Kolkata side last season, being the one to carry the ball forward and deliver those killer passes in the final third. The Real Madrid academy product showcased his class by taking to the ISL like a fish to water, with years of experience playing around Europe helping him thrive. Hernandez has signed a one-year extension with ATKMB and will continue as their playmaker.
The Spaniard’s set-piece deliveries are exquisite, while his tendency to pull off unpredictable passes or slither into the area to score goals makes him a potent threat. But, Hernandez will have to work hard during games, as not putting in enough defensive work-rate got him into some hot water with Habas last season. He’ll need to be more efficient this campaign to keep Inman and Garcia out of the team.
Edu Garcia proved himself as a really useful squad player for Habas’ side last season, scoring important goals and shining in the big games. Having a lot of experience of playing in Indian football with Bengaluru FC as well as ATK, Garcia has been retained for another term for his impactful nature. Not only does the Spaniard have the technical ability to dribble past bodies, but his final product is refined enough to bring a clinical element to ATK’s attack.
Garcia will mostly be used as an impact substitute or rotation option, considering he scored four out of his five goals last season off the bench. He loves causing havoc in the final third and has the intelligence to move past past to score and assist goals, but his injury issues have troubled him for years. The Spaniard needs to take good care of himself so as not to pick up a bad injury and if he plays through the entire campaign, he should act as the ‘gamechanger’ for ATKMB once again.
The newest signing for ATK Mohun Bagan, Inman has been signed mostly because of how impressive the last arrivals from the A-League (Krishna, Williams) have been. Inman played for Brisbane Roar for a few years, but is a product of the Newcastle United academy with plenty of experience playing in England! An efficient, creative midfielder with an eye for goal, Inman thrives in the No.10 role and loves getting forward to create opportunities, having scored four goals and assisted six in the A-League last season.
He’ll bring that extra spark in attack, helping create more opportunities through central areas and adding another goalscoring option. Inman thrives at scoring crunch goals in big matches and can play in a number of roles. Meanwhile, his intelligence should help open up spaces for Krishna and Williams as well. It remains to be seen how he adapts to the ISL’s intensity and whether he can improve his consistency in producing the goods, but Inman should be a breath of fresh air for the Kolkata giants’ attack.
Krishna’s partner-in-crime has also been retained for another campaign by ATK Mohun Bagan, after providing some fireworks in attack last season. Considering that he spent almost his entire career playing in Australia (apart from a few years at Danish side Brondby), Williams has adapted to the ISL really well. He isn’t an out-and-out No. 9 like Krishna, but opts to play deeper to link-up well with midfielders and orchestrate moves. Williams’ clever off-the-ball movement and passing ability makes him an impressive mirror to Roy and he also manages to sneak into goalscoring positions with more disguise than the ATKMB hitman.
Moreover, Williams brings maturity and intelligence to the attack, while his relentless energy ensures that Habas has a hard-working, creative player that can make their transitions smoother. The Australian striker struggled with injuries and missed weeks of action, with the tendency to pick up knocks.
Being the hero for ATK’s success last season, it is not surprising that Krishna has been retained for another. The former Wellington Phoenix star and player with ancestral connections with the City of Joy became a local hero with his outstanding performances in the previous term, scoring 15 goals and providing six assists for the Kolkata side. A clinical, instinctive centre-forward who always finds himself in the right places and manages to outwit and outpace defenders in swift transitions, Krishna is key to making Habas’ counter-attacking style thrive in the ISL.
He will look to play a more influential role next campaign in which he also creates more goals. At the same time, he will also look to maintain his lethal attitude by popping in unpredictable strikes in the final third. Krishna’s excellent finishing ability, physicality and tendency to drag defenders out of position are his biggest assets. But, he’ll have to look to improve his aerial prowess and stay clear of injuries to clinch the Golden Boot and help ATKMB claim that elusive first place finish to gain an AFC Champions League spot next season.