ATK Mohun Bagan coach Antonio Habas leaves nothing to chance. Every pass his team plays, every move a player makes and every position a defender takes on the football field is planned and rehearsed a number of times on the training pitch.

His players know exactly what they have to do during a game and often perform the task with impeccable efficiency. Yet not all about ATK Mohun Bagan is like clockwork. Habas, for all his methods, relies on a bit of magic to complete his jigsaw. This X-factor comes from their main man up front – Roy Krishna.

The Fijian transforms ATK Mohun Bagan from being a dull and boring side that not many would want to watch to a team everyone simply expects to win.

Lethal and clinical

Krishna is lethal in front of goal. It’s not just the goal tallies across his career that would tell you that, but also his ability to spark into life in a flash in games where he has largely not been effective.

He is not a ninety-minute player, he deals in moments of quality that no one on the pitch at the time seems capable of producing. To add to that, he delivers the goods with great consistency.

In his career that has spanned over fourteen years, he almost averages a goal every two games.

Having come into the Indian Super League on the back of scoring 19 goals in 27 A-League matches, he has more than lived up to his reputation.

Since his arrival in India, no other player has a better goals-per-game ratio than Krishna.

Goals-per-game ratios if top strikers in ISL

Player Matches Played Goals Scored Goals per game
Roy Krishna 41 29 0.7
Igor Angulo 19 13 0.68
Bartholomew Ogbeche 36 23 0.64
Nerijus Valskis 38 23 0.61
Aridane Santana 32 19 0.6
Diego Mauricio 20 12 0.6
Sunil Chhetri 37 17 0.46
* Data used from the start of the 2019-'20 season.

If you consider the entire history of ISL, only FC Goa’s Ferran Corominas, who is the league’s all-time leading goalscorer, has a higher goals-per-game ratio than the Fijian.

Krishna is not someone who needs too many invitations to score and some of his goals this season have been a lesson in finishing. His movement and composure in the box is a joy to watch.

Only Mumbai City’s Adam Le Fondre has a better goal conversion rate than the Fijian this season among players who have played more than ten games.

Goal conversion rate for ISl forwards

Player Goal conversion rate
Adam Le Fondre 27%
Roy Krishna 25%
Igor Angulo 25%
Diego Mauricio 23%
Aridane Santana 20%

Extremely valuable

What makes him an even more important asset for the Mariners is the percentage of their goals in which Krishna is involved in. The Fijian has scored 50% of the team’s total goals this season and has had a direct hand in 18 out of the 28 goals ATK Mohun Bagan have scored.

No other player in the ISL has been so valuable to their respective teams than what Krishna is for the Mariners.

Player Team % of total goals scored by team
Roy Krishna ATK Mohun Bagan 50
Diego Mauricio Odisha FC 48
Igor Angulo FC Goa 42
Nerijus Valskis Jamshedpur FC 38
Aridane Santana Hyderabad FC 37
Adam le Fondre Mumbai City FC 31
Sunil Chhetri Bengaluru FC 30
Jordan Murray Kerala Blasters 30
Bartholomew Ogbeche Mumbai City FC 23
Luis Machado NorthEast United 23

The above numbers show just how phenomenal Krishna has been for the Mariners. To put it into more perspective, the Fijian has almost been as valuable to ATK Mohun Bagan as Adam le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche combined have been for Mumbai City FC.

If Krishna’s goals were to be removed, the Mariners would have finished ten points lower and would have failed to make the semi-finals. His goals are as precious as gold for Antonio Habas’ side who have only lost three times across two seasons when Krishna has been on the scoresheet.

While critics may point at the lack of other goalscorers in the Mariners’ camp for Krishna’s contribution to appear higher, but he is the league’s top scorer and not just his team’s. But being top of the scoring charts while playing in a team that isn’t the most creative and has the lowest goal tally among the top four semi-finalists adds even more credit to his feat.

More than just a goalscorer

ATK Mohun Bagan’s attacking numbers may not tell the whole story this season, but Krishna has more to him than just his goalscoring skills.

Over the two seasons, it’s quite apparent that he makes those playing around him much better.

Last season David Williams, who almost played as a second striker with Krishna, had impressive returns. He scored seven goals and provided five assists as ATK won the ISL title.

This year, Habas has preferred Manvir Singh as Krishna’s strike partner and the Indian forward has produced his best-ever numbers in the ISL. In his first three seasons, Manvit had scored three goals and had a solitary assist to his name. However, this season alone the former FC Goa striker has scored five times and provided three assists.

“The likes of (Roy) Krishna, and (David) Williams, they are not only good players but good people,” ATK Mohun Bagan’s attacking midfielder Marcelinho told ISL media.

“On the field, everything’s too easy with them. They know where I’m running. When you have players like that playing with you, your job becomes easier,” he added.

This season Williams has been a peripheral figure in the team with Krishna very much taking the centre stage and he has led the Mariners frontline brilliantly.

Going into the semi-finals, no other player would be as important for their team’s hopes than Krishna would be for ATK Mohun Bagan. With goals likely to be at a premium in the tie against an in-form NorthEast United, the onus will be on Krishna to make the difference for his team again.

“I think that Roy is the same important player as last season. In the first few matches, he could not perform his best as he was without competitive football for six months. Now for me, he is the best player in the league,” said Habas.

His coach has set the standards for him with his words, and now it’s upto Krishna to live up to it. It’s unlikely to be something that will make him lose his sleep. After all, he’s the one-man show leading a well-oiled team.