Rahim Ali: Thankful to Igor Stimac for keeping faith in me
Rahim Ali also reveals how the competition inside the squad motivates him.
After a long time, Rahim Ali has been back in the Indian national team squad. The last time he was called up was in March last year, for the friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus. However, this time, the challenge is different. India will be playing in the Hero Intercontinental Cup in June and Igor Stimac has named a 41-member squad for the preparatory camp in Bhubaneswar which will start from 15th May, as earlier revealed by Khel Now.
After receiving the call from the national team, Khel Now caught up with Rahim Ali. Here’s what the 23-year-old said.
Right time to get a chance?
Considering Rahim is just 23, and has a lot to prove to the stakeholders of Indian football, is this the right time to get selected in the squad? Rahim said, “Definitely, this is the perfect chance at the very right time. I missed the previous National Team camp due to an injury. I am thankful to Igor Stimac for keeping his faith in me and giving me a chance. I am now looking forward to fully utilising this opportunity.”
Competition for a first-team start
The forward line of India will comprise the likes of skipper Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, Sivasakthi Narayanan, Ishan Pandita and Rahim Ali. The competition will be high to get a slot in the starting line-up. Rahim Ali however, accepts the challenge with open arms.
“Chhetri Bhai is someone who has been an idol and has inspired me a lot. His presence is something that pushes me to do better. We have a lot of good strikers in the team and it will not be an easy task. But I believe a better company and competitive colleagues help everyone of us to grow. And I am eyeing to work hard and bring my best for my country. The rest I guess will follow.”
Sharing the squad with seniors from Kolkata and Anirudh Thapa
Rahim Ali is one of the two Chennaiyin FC players to get called up for the Bhubaneswar camp. The other one is Anirudh Thapa. Also, speaking about regionalities, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose are the only other two Bengalis apart from Rahim, who are in the national team squad.
Rahim is excited to play with them and learn the best things possible. He informed Khel Now, “Pritam Da is one of the seniors who always keeps me pushing and I guess is my best critic. And in the club, Thapa has always been a great support on and off the pitch. We have been sharing the dressing room for a long time so naturally, we push each other.”
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