Mohun Bagan midfielder Joni Kauko believes that he is at his best when he plays further up the field. Kauko scored a brace against Maldivian side Maziya S&RC in Kolkata to advance to the inter-zonal semifinals of the 2022 AFC Cup. They needed a win to qualify for the next round after Gokulam Kerala FC failed to beat Bashundhara Kings. The Mariners put five past the Green Boys with Roy Krishna, Subhashish Bose, and Carl McHugh also getting on the scoreboard. The Finnish midfielder said he was proud of his team’s efforts and enjoyed his role higher up the pitch.

“There were a lot of people today. We played a good game, in some moments we can always be better, but in the end, we were dominant in the game, and the entire journey in the group stage has been amazing, we just lost one game to Gokulam Kerala FC. So, I’m really happy and proud of the boys,” Mohun Bagan midfielder Joni Kauko said. “I don’t think I have any problem with the role, I think that has been my position as I’ve been playing there for four years now. Initially, in the first ten games, I was playing in a defensive role and that was a new thing for me, and it didn’t deter me. I felt like I can always give my best and help the team. But if I can be further up the pitch, more like in the center of the game, that’s when I feel I’m at my best.”

“It was quite a shock to me in that first game against Nasaf where we lost 6-0. We had a couple of good games, later on, then I felt like I really wasn’t there when I played in a more defensive role,” he added. “You wouldn’t expect such tactically and technically good players from such a small place. They played really well and they showed they’ve been practicing a lot.”

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