For the second consecutive season, the Mariners lost their final league game to concede the league Shield.

Before the Indian Super League (ISL) season started, a lot of expectations were placed on ATK Mohun Bagan. They boasted the most expensive squad, had signed quality players for record fees, and were filled with winners. However, after a real topsy-turvy ride, they weren’t exactly able to match those expectations.

The Mariners had a really chaotic season, filled with a lot of drama – both on the pitch and off it. Antonio Habas was sacked midseason, with Juan Ferrando taking the seat after leaving FC Goa. COVID-19 cases within the squad rocked their momentum and left the players exhausted by the end.

The players showed impressive character to fight until the end for the league championship but failed in the final hurdles. Just like last season, it was a case of close but no cigar for ATKMB.

Fact Sheet for ATK Mohun Bagan in Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22

ATK Mohun Bagan Fact-sheet
ATK Mohun Bagan Fact-Sheet for ISL 2021-22

Top Performers

Liston Colaco

Despite his expensive price tag, Liston Colaco took no time in becoming a superstar in the ATK Mohun Bagan setup. He initially stuttered under Habas, but really started to fly in Ferrando’s more expansive attacking system. The 23-year-old was almost unplayable for the majority of games, flying past defenders with ease, creating chances, and being a joy to watch.

Liston Colaco Stat
Colaco dazzled with his stunners, dribbles and assists

He ended the season as the highest-scoring Indian player, with eight goals as well as four assists. Liston scored some real top-quality goals, as he excited fans with his fiery attacking style. The young Indian winger played a major role in keeping ATKMB in the league title race. Colaco had his most successful ISL season yet and proved why he’s worth every bit of his transfer fee.

Joni Kauko

Joni Kauko joined the ATKMB setup soon after his participation at Euro 2020 with Finland last summer. However, he took little time to adapt to his new surroundings. The Finish midfielder was an absolute bulldozer in ATKMB’s midfield, acting as an unstoppable engine. Kauko’s energetic, proactive presence helped the Mariners excel under Ferrando’s high-press, attacking style.

Joni Kauko Stat
Kauko dominated ATKMB’s midfield and established himself under Juan Ferrando

With his crisp forward passing and ball retention ability, adding to his physicality, Joni was able to trouble a lot of teams. He scored three goals and provided six assists as well as creating a lot of big chances consistently.

The 31-year-old proved his quality by being a constant thorn in the side of opponents and was a driving force for ATK Mohun Bagan in the competition.


ATK Mohun Bagan only kept six clean sheets in 22 ISL games last season and had the worst defensive record among the top four. However, things could’ve gotten even worse had Tiri not been in their backline. The Spaniard was an absolute rock at the back and excelled as their defensive leader.

Tiri Stat
Tiri also became the first foreigner to play over 100 ISL matches

Often playing as the only natural centre-back in their lineup, Tiri marshalled his defenders well and played a key role in neutralizing some daunting opposition players. He averaged five clearances, three interceptions, and two blocks per game for the Mariners – coming up with clutch challenges to avert disaster.

Not just that, but his impressive passing ability meant he averaged 54+ passes per game and was responsible for progressing the ball into the final third.

Underperformer of the season

Amrinder Singh

Amrinder Singh
Singh conceded 29 goals worst among teams in the top four (Courtesy: ISL Media)

ATKMB signed Amrinder Singh in the summer with high hopes. The club opted to bring him in as Arindam Bhattacharya’s replacement. The Mariners paid a sizeable salary to the India international for his work, but Amrinder wasn’t able to repay their faith in earnest. He started the season poorly, making too many crucial errors and causing his team problems.

Amrinder might’ve ended the campaign with the second-most saves (57), but he also made a number of sloppy errors that cost his side time and again. His distribution was also quite scrappy, causing problems in build-up play. Amrinder wasn’t even able to match his predecessor’s clean-sheet record from the 2020/21 season (10). He ended the season conceding 1.32 goals per game.

Best Performances

1. ATK Mohun Bagan 4-2 Kerala Blasters

Watch ATK Mohun Bagan Vs Kerala Blasters Match Highlights

2. SC East Bengal 0-3 ATK Mohun Bagan

Watch SC East Bengal Vs ATK Mohun Bagan Match Highlights

3. Hyderabad FC 1-2 ATK Mohun Bagan

Watch Hyderabad FC Vs ATK Mohun Bagan Match Highlights

Managers’ Report Card

ATK Mohun Bagan gave Antonio Habas a one-year contract extension after the 2020/21 season, reaffirming their faith in him. The Spanish manager was heavily backed with star signings, but just couldn’t properly utilize his resources.

Habas was sacked by the club after the first six league games, wherein the Mariners only won two and were languishing at eighth. In came Juan Ferrando, controversially walking away from FC Goa to take over a side in trouble.

Ferrando didn’t need much time to make an immediate impact. The Mariners went undefeated for 13 successive games under him and only lost two out of their 15 outings.

Juan Ferrando
Ferrando took ATK Mohun Bagan on a 13-match unbeaten run in ISL 2021-22 (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The Spaniard orchestrated a formidable change in the system, turning the Mariners from being more defensive and counter-attacking to more possession-based and emphasizing high pressing. He got the best out of the likes of Liston, Kauko, Tiri, Roy Krishna, and more in doing so – helping the Mariners produce some entertaining, attacking football under difficult circumstances.

Ferrando has insisted that he’ll work on implementing his clear game plan more precisely once pre-season training begins. The Spaniard will be given the keys to continue for next season and is expected to ensure his side plays exciting, attacking football.

Lessons to be Learned

For the second successive season, ATKMB have come painfully short of winning the league championship. They had a chance to win the AFC Champions League spot in the last game but ended up losing to Jamshedpur FC. This isn’t just bad luck anymore.

The Mariners need stronger characters who are mentally tough and able to go the entire stretch. With a number of foreign players either underperforming or being too injury-prone, an overhaul is needed in that department. They’ll probably need to take a leaf from Jamshedpur’s books to sign quality foreign players able to perform throughout the season.

They also need to improve their midfield and need more creativity in the team, as well as bulking up the number of defensive options. The Mariners need to spend wisely, not necessarily lavishly, and create a nice blend of exciting youngsters, alongside experienced winners. Following that can help them break free of this last-minute stuttering and help them finally lift the shield or ISL title next season.

Fan View


Snehashish: The resilience shown by the squad after a few nervy games at the beginning of the tournament, is something to take note of. Assembling a team full of stars and keeping the show going after a change of hands was the most striking fact of ATK Mohun Bagan’s outing.

At a certain point, the Mariners were impenetrable, as no team found a way to breach their castle. Ferrando had moulded the team as per his beliefs and the players were well adept to the technique, just days after they were following an almost contrasting pattern under a different supervisor. The rise of Liston and Kiyan have made a significant contribution to Indian football.

However, dropping crucial points at critical junctures by failing to convert draws into wins has remained the biggest drawback of the Green and Maroon brigade this season. Yes, they have been plagued by injuries in the squad and the Covid-19 outbreak, but it was something dealt with by every team.

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