Kolkata, Sep 17 | ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas on Friday announced the squad for their AFC Cup inter-zone semifinal against FC Nasaf in Uzbekistan after a series of tests at a camp in Dubai. There have been some changes to the squad that featured in Group D, South Zone last month in the Maldives.
Finnish central midfielder Joni Kauko, Michael Soosairaj and Prabir Das have been included in the squad. However, Hugo Boumous, who impressed one and all in the Maldives, is not part of the 22-member squad.
The players to have made it to the squad for the tie (scheduled for September 22) are, Amrinder Singh, Avilash Paul, Arsh Shaikh, Pritam Kotal, Ashutosh Mehta, Carl McHugh, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi, Joni Kauko, Lenny Rodrigues, Liston Colaco, Prabir Das, Michael Soosairaj, Bidyananda Singh, N Engson Singh, SK Sahil, Ravi Bahadur Rana, Abhishek Dhananjay Suryavanshi, Roy Krishna, David Williams, Manvir Singh and Kiyan Nassiri.
ATK Mohun Bagan star striker Roy Krishna believes they face an uphill task against the Uzbek side.
“It’s going to be a tough match but we are preparing ourselves as much as possible to take on the challenge. The club needs to win the next match to progress to the next stage. For me personally, it would be a major achievement if we can go all the way, so I’m confident that we will be able to come away with a win despite them having the home advantage.
“Overall, it’s going to be a difficult match because they have some good foreign players and they also have already started their league, which means they’ve had at least a few months of training under their belt by the time we have our match. Competing with a well-trained team like them would be a challenge, but we are preparing as much as we can to win this. We are going to Uzbekistan to give our all,” Krishna told the ATKMB Media team.
ATK Mohun Bagan beat fellow Indian Super League (ISL) side Bengaluru FC (2-0) and Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation (3-1) comfortably and drew 1-1 with Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings to top Group D (South Zone) and advance to the inter-zone semifinal.
Krishna, 2020/21 “Hero of the League” after scoring 14 goals and providing eight assists, said, “I think my biggest lesson (from the Group stage) is not to underestimate any team making it this far and also to focus on one match at a time. We are playing with the best from the division groups so they are coming fully prepared. This means we need to up our game and fitness level. Some teams came to the playoffs on the back of winning their major leagues with proper preparations.
“We had only assembled for a couple of weeks due to travel restrictions when we headed to the Maldives, so it was a good learning opportunity. Most of us couldn’t get together because of restrictions in our own countries that didn’t allow us to travel outside the country and it took a long time to convince the authorities which meant we only had a week or so to train. But now it’s been over a month so we’ve had some good training and our fitness levels are up,” the Fijian said.
Krishna, who scored two goals in the group stage, also made it clear that scoring is not the only thing at the forefront of his mind.
“My motive is mainly to help the team win and if I get the chance to score, I will score. If I can assist another team player, I will do the same. The ultimate goal is to help the team win, even if it means defending at times to protect our own goalmouth,” he said.