Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Slavko Damjanovic: ATK Mohun Bagan’s emergency signing who went on to win the Indian Tremendous League


Think about this. You’re one in all India’s largest soccer golf equipment chasing its maiden Indian Tremendous League (ISL) title. You herald big-name signings, together with the well-known identify of Pogba. Not the World Cup winner. Paul’s barely lesser-known brother, Florentin Pogba.

However mid-season, you lose most of your defenders to damage. The wall has cracks and the wildlings are coming.

It’s right here that the ISL aspect ATK Mohun Bagan proved its mettle, bringing in new gamers and eventually successful the title after beating Bengaluru FC within the closing on Saturday.

One of the crucial necessary stars within the win was Slavko Damjanovic – the Montenegrin center-back, who has had a dream second spell within the league.

“Coming into one of the biggest clubs in India, I played here after a stint in another club and we won here this time,” he tells  Sportstar in an unique interview after the win.

“So happy for my teammates. They gave the best on the field. It’s a very good team, a great club and we deserve the title.”

Damjanovic had joined ATK Mohun Bagan at a time when the membership had misplaced three of its most necessary first-team gamers, Pogba, Tiri and Joni Kauko, to damage.

“I was playing in Serbia (with first-division side Novi Pazar) but I terminated my contract to come to India. I knew about ATK (ATK Mohun Bagan) and it is good for my career to play in India, to develop more as a footballer for the future,” he says.

A 6ft 2 center-back, Damjanovic’s body is one in all his largest benefits and being left-footed has labored wonders for the defender; beginning assaults from the again, mitigating opposition passes behind the defence and pairing completely with captain Pritam Kotal – a right-footed centre-back.

The 30-year-old was one of many vibrant spots in a tepid Chennaiyin FC final season alongside Vishal Kaith, each of whom have discovered kind on the Kolkata-based membership.

Damjanovic’s attributes on the ball and his body proved pivotal to ATK Mohun Bagan’s defensive file this season.
| Photograph Credit score: Shibu Preman / Focus Sports activities / ISL

Damjanovic resumed his ISL stint towards his former membership, approaching from the bench however discovered the web on the most opportune second for ATK Mohun Bagan – towards its arch-rival East Bengal within the Kolkata derby.

“Amazing fan support,” he says, “It’s different to Chennaiyin FC. I played some good football there but this, too, is one of the biggest clubs in India.”

For the reason that derby, he has not missed a single minute of soccer for the Mariners. In comparison with his earlier season, his passing has improved.

With Chennaiyin FC, Damjanovic had 32.26 passes per recreation with a passing accuracy of 82.7 per cent. Underneath Juan Ferrando (ATKMB head coach), his passing accuracy has improved with a determine of 86.2 per cent.

Within the air, too, he has appeared extra medical from set-pieces, discovering the web for the primary time in two seasons.

Within the closing, whereas each the in-form Sunil Chhetri and former ISL Golden Ball winner Roy Krishna bought on the scoresheet, Damjanovic and his males didn’t permit them to get sufficient scoring alternatives, in what was a 2-2 thriller, which the Mariners gained on penalties.

“This season, we had in mind that every game is important and we entered the final with the same mentality. (Ferrando) He has quality. He is a great manager. He kept saying that if we give our best, we will win. Even after 90 minutes, this is what he said.

“And then penalties happened. Sometimes you need luck in football and we had it last night,” he says.

ATKMB transformed all 4 penalties whereas BFC missed twice – one in all its spot-kicks (by Bruno Ramires) being saved whereas the opposite (by Pablo Perez) was astray – giving the title to the Mariners.

“Amazing celebrations yesterday – with the team, the staff, great night. Everyone in my family is very happy. My son, my father everyone is elated. Time to move on to the next tournament [Super Cup] now,” exclaims the Montenegrin, who flew to Kolkata from Goa this morning.

“Again here in Kolkata, it is amazing. The people and the fans. I want to tell them, thank you! Thank you for supporting us. You have been very supportive fans – too much power, too much energy,’” he added.

Damjanovic’s days with the membership, nonetheless, stay numbered for now. Signed within the winter switch window, his contract runs out in Could this yr.

However after successful his and the membership’s maiden ISL title, he has his eyes set on the Tremendous Cup – one other trophy his aspect has by no means gained.

“No ISL club has approached me yet but we will see. My contract is getting over. I will continue to give my best – in training and on the field – for ATK Mohun Bagan and hope to get the best out of the Super Cup,” he says.

With a trophy already within the bag and a Tremendous Cup forward, the 30-year-old seeks relaxation now. He has a flight scheduled for Montenegro and a household ready for him on the opposite aspect.

“I will go home, watch my family, my son, and my daughter and will hope to keep myself in shape. I will train at home,” he says.

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