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The coach is trying to curate the best XI out of 35 players- Adil Khan

Written by: Neil Talnikar

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The 31 year-old praised the playing style brought by the new coach and was optimistic about the remaining fixtures.

As soon as the lineup for the Indian football team was announced before the opening game of the Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019, a lot of eyebrows were raised especially as they witnessed three very unfamiliar names in the defence- Adil Khan, Narender Gehlot and Mandar Rao Dessai.

As Sandesh Jhingan was out with an injury and the likes of Anas Edathodika and Pronay Halder being not picked for the final squad, coach Igor Stimac had to make his decision and in a way the responsibility of carrying the entire defence fell onto the shoulders of the only experienced player in the lot, Adil Khan.

Watch: Adil Khan says he has learnt from his mistakes from the Tajikistan game

However as things turned out, the pressure from Tajikistan was a lot to handle for the new-look defence and the Blue Tigers conceded four goals in the second half to suffer a disappointing loss, even after a commendable display in the first 45 minutes.

In fairness, Adil had managed to pull off the job for the entirety of the first half but to his misfortune, mistakes kept coming from the back line until the point where he couldn’t cover up for them.

The 31 year-old did well to act as a makeshift defender and in fact it is believed that he will start again at the heart of the defence in the game against DPR Korea on Saturday alongside the returning Jhingan.

Ahead of the fixture, the FC Pune City stalwart had a brief interaction with the media as he discussed the next game, 

“The result of the last game didn’t go our way even though we played well in the first half. But we learn from our mistakes and we are preparing well for our next game,” he said while showing a great spirit.



India need to win both of their remaining fixtures if they are to play the finals and when asked about the mood at the camp, Adil said, “The next games are must-win for us and we are preparing really well for them. There are a lot of expectations from the fans and we must pull up our socks and go ahead.”

“Basically this tournament for us, is sort of a preparation for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The coach is trying to curate the best XI out of 35 players,” he added.

“I think the coach is trying to make out the best combinations for the upcoming days before the World Cup qualifiers.”

Rewinding back to the time when he made his return to the national team during the King’s Cup in Thailand, Adil quoted, “I think I am really lucky to get back in the national team after staying out for long due to injuries. But I came back stronger and did well in the King’s Cup and I hope to keep playing well in the upcoming matches.”

“Even though I tried my best during the last game, I regret that I couldn’t keep a clean sheet for the team. Defensively there were a lot of errors and I have learned from them. I’ll try to do better if I get a second opportunity.”

Adding to his stance, the defender said, “I admit we were relaxed in the second half of the last match and I personally feel, being an experienced player, I should have done better to hold the defence together.”

Watch: Indian football team trains ahead of their game against DPR Korea

Further, the 31-year-old went on to discuss how it is important to have matches in different cities to generate interest in the people about football, while citing the example of Ahmedabad. “It will help us get more players from different parts of the country inspired by the likes of senior players such as Sunil Chhetri, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.”

Moving on to speak about the band of young players in the squad, Adil said, “It is always good to have a combination of youth and experienced players. The youth players bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm and help in covering the length of the pitch while the experienced ones control them, to establish a balance in the team.”

Expressing his admiration to the style of football brought by Stimac, Adil concluded with the session stating, “I think the new style of football will definitely help develop the quality of Indian football and we are certainly on the right path at the moment.”

Published: Fri Jul 12, 2019 05:24 PM IST

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