ATK took a significant step towards defending the Indian Super League (ISL) title after the merged entity ATK-Mohun Bagan completed the contract extension of Fijian striker Roy Krishna.
The former Wellington Phoenix star played a key role in ATK’s title-winning campaign. He scored 15 goals and assisted six more to average a goal contribution in each of the 21 games he featured. He formed a dangerous partnership with Australian forward David Williams, another crucial cog in the wheel that the champions managed to retain ahead of the new season.
ATK have managed to keep together a huge chunk of their core. Sumit Rathi, Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Javi Hernandez and Jayesh Rane are other players who were instrumental in their campaign last season and will be staying at the club for at least one more year.
A player of Roy’s quality is bound to be pursued by numerous suitors. He confirmed the same in an interview with Fiji-based FBC Sports.
“I had a number of offers from around the world at the beginning of the year but right now there are no discussions due to COVID-19. I do hope that at the end of COVID-19 pandemic, I can play football again. I usually get a month or two between seasons for my break,” he said.
Opting to extend with ATK despite having offers from potentially bigger clubs in a bigger league is an indication of the player’s faith in the club’s sporting project. It is noteworthy that the ISL champions were prepared to offer a financially superior offer and this could have played a part in Roy’s decision.
ATK have qualified for the group stage of the AFC Cup 2021, thanks to their merger with Mohun Bagan who had won the I-League. This provided their talisman with an additional incentive to put pen to paper for another year. Roy enjoyed a fantastic time with Wellington Phoenix, but he never featured in a continental cup game in their skin.
Much like most of his teammates who are playing in the AFC Cup for the first time, Roy will be fuelled to perform to the best of his abilities.
The defending champions also made a statement for themselves in the ISL by retaining these key players. With the core intact, the squad for the 2020-21 season will be spared the trouble of starting from scratch as they look to build a rhythm. It would be fair to claim that they are a couple of overseas signings away from earning the favourites tag ahead of the new season.
Clearly, the management has not tinkered with the proven formula for winning. The extension of the contracts of their top players and coach Antonio Habas is a step in the right direction and the management will be hoping it reaps rewards.