The 30-year-old has been called up to the national camp after a gap of seven years.
Just as his international career looked to be coming to an end, Adil Khan received a lifeline from new coach Igor Stimac. When the 37-man preliminary squad for the Kings Cup was announced last week, a surprising inclusion included that of the FC Pune City midfielder. The call came as a shock to Adil than anyone else.
The 30-year-old last made an appearance in national colours in 2012. Seven years, tons of hard-work later, his career comes full circle with another call-up to the national camp. After being overlooked for years despite his strong performances in the Indian Super League(ISL), fate finally smiled at Khan. Even after multiple setbacks, he never gave up hope when it came for appearing in the Blue Tigers jersey once again.
Speaking to Sportstar after his call-up, the 30-year-old expressed his thoughts on getting selected once again. He said, “I had a gut feeling that a call may happen. I was following Igor Stimac and realised that he is more of a defensive-oriented coach. I was hoping my name would be on that list. When it happened, I was surprised, to be honest.”
Now that he’s been selected, Adil will have to work his hardest to topple over his talented peers in the squad. When his role in the team comes in question, the 30-year-old still isn’t sure about how he’ll be used by Stimac. “I don’t know. I will need time to understand what the coach wants. Everything is new now; new coach, new thinking. I will join the camp and take it up from there.”, he said.
Despite his solid work over the years, Stephen Constantine never really found anything special in Adil. When asked on why he thought he was snubbed for so long, he explained, “I was under the impression that he wanted to try out younger players. The coach had watched games when I played for Churchill Brothers in the defence and later after signing for Pune City, he was aware of my performances as per the team needs, in different positions. Selection is the coach’s choice. I did not get an opportunity then, now the opportunity has come.”
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Moreover, the 30-year-old’s played under many reputed foreign coaches throughout his career. However, he still remains cagey when trying to point on who was his favourite, “I don’t have any favourite coach. Phil Brown, Ranko Popovic, Derrick Pereira understood each player’s strong point and what he could bring to the team,”
“Popovic gave us the freedom to join the attack; he assigned specific roles after assessing each player’s strengths. Brown also had a similar view.” he further reiterated. Finally, he also explained on being left frustrated and disappointed at not being in the AFC Cup squad back in January. “I watched every match and wished I was in that squad,”
“Earlier, Indians made up the numbers in ISL, now coaches realise we can deliver,” he further explained.