Finland’s midfield star, Joni Kauko became a Mariner recently as ATK Mohun Bagan completed their first foreign signing of the upcoming season, after the midfielder wrapped his Euro 2020 campaign with the Finnish team.
Kauko is a vastly experienced individual, having played professionally for over a decade. He is known for his versatility and hard-working nature. He could be one of the first names on the team sheet for manager Antonio Lopez Habas for the upcoming AFC Cup 2021 and the Hero Indian Super League season. Let’s understand what he brings to the field for his new club.
Joni Kauko would become one of the few international players in this season’s Hero ISL who gets a regular call-up for their national side. He has made 29 appearances for the Finland national team and featured in all three matches for them in Euro 2020. He has plenty of experience of playing in the first division of Finland and has featured in the UEFA Champions League as well as Europa League qualifying phase.
He would bring a sure-shot winning mentality to the squad which will help them in their quest for the AFC Cup and the Hero ISL title. Kauko got his hands on the Finnish Championship as well as the Finnish Cup back in 2008 with FC Inter Turku. He got another trophy in 2013, the Finnish League Cup but this time around with FC Lahti.
A MIDFIELD GENERAL
Last season, Habas struggled with getting his foreign midfielders ready for crucial league encounters. Summer signing Bradden Inman didn’t work out and was loaned to Odisha FC for the rest of the season, star midfielder Edu Garcia was out injured in the later half of the season and Javi Hernandez failed to have a similar impact as he did in the 2019-20 Hero ISL season. Irish midfielder Carl McHugh was the only constant name in the midfield for the team and he too had to occasionally fit in as a centre-back given the injury situation in the squad.
So this is where Joni Kakuo’s signing can be a game-changer. He would slot perfectly in the midfield alongside McHugh and the duo could be one of the most solid midfield pivots in the competition. Another thing to remember here is that the league has changed its rules of five foreign players allowed in the starting XI. From the coming season onwards, managers would be able to name only four foreign players in their starting XI and you need them all to dictate play. Hence someone of Kakuo’s quality is important in the middle of the park.
Read: From A-League to Hero ISL: A Look at Roy Krishna’s Journey
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