The stocky ponytailed striker from the Fijian islands has taken the Indian Super League (ISL) by storm – for the second season running. If Roy Krishna was brilliant last season when he scored a joint league high of 15 goals to lead ATK to the title, he has turned it up a few levels this time around.
A never-tiring pair of feet, a never-say-die attitude and an insatiable appetite for goals saw Krishna top the goal-scoring charts at the end of the league stage of the ISL 2020-21 season. He began the season in sublime fashion by scoring in five of ATK Mohun Bagan’s opening six games, but then slipped to a slump of sorts.
He managed only one goal in ATK Mohun Bagan’s next seven games, and the team also mirrored his form: dropping points in four of those games.
Injuries to key players and morale-draining defeats to Mumbai City and NorthEast United saw Mumbai City open up a six-point lead at the top and enhance its chances of securing the coveted AFC Champions League berth.
But it wasn’t like Antonio Habas, the most successful coach in the ISL with two titles, was going to watch his side lose out. A change from his conservative “1-0” tactics to a more free-flowing attacking style saw the likes of Krishna revel. With Manvir Singh coming good and the arrival of Marcelinho in the January transfer window, Krishna was back at his best as he pummelled seven goals in the next six games to take ATK Mohun Bagan to the top of the table. His exploits ensured the Mariners took the race for the top spot right down to the wire.
While ATK Mohun Bagan did surrender the League Winners Shield to Mumbai City by losing 2-0 in the decider, Habas’ men will have a shot at silverware as they take on NorthEast United FC in the semifinals. And they will have to thank Krishna for coming this far. The skipper has rescued his side from the jaws of defeat with four match-winning goals after the 75th minute and has been a vital cog in the team’s fortunes.
Why Krishna stands out is because he brings more to the table than just his phenomenal ability to score goals. The defence starts with him as he begins the press: running non-stop and chasing the ball down to the very end. More often than not you will see him run the entirety of the 90 minutes and sink to his knees at the full-time whistle, giving you a split-second glimpse of just how much work he puts in. His ability to marshal his side along with a remarkable work rate make him one of Habas’s most prized assets.
Currently leading the race for the Golden Boot with 14 goals and four assists, Krishna will be more than eager to make it to a second successive final and clinch a second successive title.
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