Kauko, who has been signed as a replacement for Spaniard Javi Hernandez straight after his exploits in EURO, returned to his homeland to be with his national side for pre-World Cup matches.
🛬 Touchdown 📍The MaldivesThe #Mariners are all set for our #AFCCup campaign! 💚❤️#ATKMohunBagan #JoyMohunBagan… https://t.co/1Y0JqIEfp2
— ATK Mohun Bagan FC (@atkmohunbaganfc) 1628947809000
“It’s unlikely that he (Kauko) will be available for the AFC Cup, even if they make round two,” a source said.
The Antonio Lopez Habas-coached side, meanwhile, reached Maldives on Saturday morning with a 21-member squad that also does not have their star India defender Sandesh Jhingan, who is likely to join Croatian Club HNK Sibenik.
In absence of Kauko, ATKMB will have four foreigners in Roy Krishna, Carl McHugh, David Williams and Hugo Boumous, their other high profile signing this season.
French-Moroccan forward Boumous, who played a key role in Mumbai City FC’s title-winning campaign last season, was thrilled to make an impact in the green-and-maroon jersey.
“I am thrilled to think that I am going to play in an International tournament wearing the jersey of a traditional Indian club,” he said before their departure.
“I’m waiting to play wearing the green-maroon jersey. The first match is very important in any tournament. If we can win, it will be easy to move forward.”
Star striker and former captain Roy Krishna, who will play in the AFC Cup for the first time, said their first goal is to make the next round.
“It is a golden opportunity to establish the club on the map of Asia. Our first goal is to go to the next round,” the Fijian said.
The squad features 20-year-old Kiyan Nassiri, son of East Bengal legend Jamshid Nassiri, and 19-year-old promising midfielder Ricky Shabong.
Maldives’ Maziya Sports & Recreation and Bashundhara Kings of Bangladesh are the other two teams in Group D.
ATK will take on the winners of Bengaluru FC and Maldives’ Club Eagles in their AFC Cup Group D (South Zone) match in Maldives on August 18.
Squad: Arindam Bhattacharya, Amrinder Singh; Pritam Kotal, Lenny Rodrigues, Subhasish Bose, Avilash Paul, Asutosh Mehta, Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, Deepak Tangri, Sumit Rathi; Sheikh Sahil, Bidyananda Singh, Abhishek Dhananjay Suryavanshi, Kiyan Nassiri, Engson Singh Ningombam, Ricky Shabong; Roy Krishna, Carl Mchugh, David Williams and Hugo Boumous.