The 32-year-old spoke about his time at Hyderabad FC, return to the national team and the positive impact of the league on Indian football.
Despite an overwhelming barrage of challenges in his career, Adil Khan has repeatedly shown a warrior-esque fighting spirit and doggedness to make it at the highest level, even when injuries threatened to have the final say. He never gave in, instead, kept coming back from every single setback. Finally, Khan has managed to remain fit over a prolonged duration of time and has solidified a place in the first-team for both club and country.
The defender represented Hyderabad FC in the previous edition of the ISL, playing a key role at the back for the new franchise. However, the team endured a poor debut campaign with injuries plaguing the side and played a part in them finishing bottom of the table, with just 10 points to their name.
Reflecting on the club’s abysmal first term, he began, “Beginning of the season, we started getting a lot of injuries, foreigners getting injured, Rafa (Lopez) got injured, I was out for four matches. A lot of things were happening. But slowly, as the season progressed, we started doing well. Yet, we didn’t get the results because of lack of concentration or you could say individual mistakes.”
“Then slowly when Albert Roca came in, took over from Phil Brown, we started doing well, keeping the ball more and started doing things that we were not doing in the first half of the season. I think it was working well and hopefully it is going to be better next season. Our target is to compete with the champion teams, give them good competition and we are looking forward to having a great next season. If not the Champions League, our target is to get into the top four at least.”
The 32-year-old is also delighted by Roca’s appointment at the club and believes he is the right man to build a formidable side, capable of challenging for top honours in the future.
“That’s the best part of the team, now that they hired Albert Roca as a coach. He was experienced already, was part of Bengaluru FC in the ISL a few years back and he is coming back to Indian football again. Luckily, we will be training under him. We already know what he wants from us.”
“Last part of the season, we played 7-8 matches under him. He was explaining to us as to what exactly the other coaches, the management and the coaching staff want from us. So, I think most of the things are clear what they want us to do, just waiting for him and the team to come together and work again, make a good bond with the new players coming in and make a strong team for the coming season.”
The upcoming edition of the Indian Super League will be held in Goa behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic. The former Churchill Brothers player believes that this could be a massive boost for the football scene in Goa and would assist in the development of young players from the state.
“I think it is good for Goan football, as lot of things are going to change. From the ISL perspective, infrastructure will take place; the grounds will be good for training and stuff. Leagues like Goa Professional League, first division league, and second division league from Goa can play on those grounds. All in all, I think it is good for the young players from Goa,” opined Adil Khan.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad FC announced a historic partnership with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund, becoming the latest Indian franchise to join hands with a European club. Providing his thoughts on the joint venture, the India international wished both clubs the best and hinted that the outfit are working on something big behind the scenes.
“It is great news for Indian football as well, not only for the club. The young players who will come into Hyderabad’s team, now have an opportunity to do their best and go abroad for exposure to the Borussia Dortmund facilities, they will be getting to use if everything goes well.”
“Going forward, I am going to give you this information that a lot more things are going to come for the fans, some exciting news, so wait for it and you will see a lot more things from the club. They are working very hard to make it happen and they should reveal it soon,” the versatile ace went on to add.
Moreover, he stated the new affiliation should give youngsters a boost and insisted that the young players will now have to prove themselves at the club. The Goan also thinks they need to have a proper balance in terms of profiles of the players in the squad, finding the perfect blend to attain the desired results.
“From the Hyderabad point of view, we need a combination of youth and experience. It needs to be a combination of youngsters, the senior players and foreigners. That is why I said we need to come together and work to make that bond, to get results for the coming year.”
Moving on to the national team, it was a huge moment for Adil Khan when he made his comeback for the Blue Tigers under Igor Stimac last year. He had achieved redemption after getting over his fitness demons and playing consistently well for over two years. Sharing his thoughts on the man that provided him an opportunity to revive his international career, the player has faith that the Croatian can elevate them to the next level and hence requested everyone to remain patient.
“I think he was an experienced player before he got into coaching. He knows how to deal with players and understands their emotions. I think he will take it to the next level but it is a process, it will take little time and we will have to be a little patient.”
Lastly, Adil Khan spoke about how the ISL has completely transformed Indian football. From the improvement in facilities to embracing a far more professional approach, he explained the changes that have taken place in Indian football ever since the inception of the league in 2014.
“Indian Super League was like a lifeline for a lot of the players, those who really wanted to express themselves at the highest level. People weren’t knowing us a lot when we used to play in the I-League. But now, wherever we go, people recognize us. That’s one part of it. But if you see, a lot of infrastructure is changed and grounds are being taken care of.”
“ISL brought a lot of things in place. It gave a better platform for the players to express themselves at the highest level and youth development programs are taking place. All in all, ISL brought a lot of positives in Indian football and hopefully it will grow in the coming years and we will see better players coming out, playing for different leagues in the world,” Adil Khan concluded.