Any planning by the coaches of ONGC or Sporting Clube de Goa ahead of their Durand Cup match only lasted until the time the rains lashed Ambedkar Stadium on Tuesday. As the pitch began to resemble a muddy battleground,players struggled to get to terms with the ball which would skid at some places while at other places it would stop dead in the water.
With defenders and the goalkeepers uncertain whether they would be able to get to ball,goal saving became a priority. In such a situation,Sporting Clube’s Adil Khan,reverted from the midfield to the stopper position. While it was an unusual situation to be in,for the player who until recently was touted as one of the most impressive new midfielders in the country,Adil took the decision in his stride. In fact he says he prefers it that way.
I am more comfortable playing as a defender and in fact I had started my career as one. But when coach Savio Medeira asked me to play as a midfielder,I had to try to make my place in that position. My job was to steal the balls in the front, says the 24-year-old who played three matches for the national side under Medeira.
While Adil says the switch shouldn’t have been difficult considering he had played several matches for Sporting Clube in that position,his experience for the national side wasn’t great.
It was really cold in Nepal, says Adil of his time at the AFC Challenge Cup. I thought that it wouldn’t really bother me as much as it did but I was constantly spraining something,or my muscles would be tight. The fact that we were playing aginst some really good sides like Uzbekistan and North Korea meant that I had to be at a hundred percent performance level all the time. I just wasn’t able to find a rhythm, he says.
The AFC Cup was the last time Adil wore the India blue as he was subsequently dropped from the squad ahead of the Nehru Cup. While his performance in Nepal hadn’t done much to his confidence,illness made things worse.
I was suffering from flu throughout my stay at the national camp and wasn’t able to perform at my best. It was disappointing that I didn’t get the call but if I have to be honest,I will admit that Lenny Rodrigues was better than me at the camp and deserved to make the squad, he says.
Despite the disappointment,Adil insists he is far from being done as he prepares to target a place in the India squad ahead of the friendlies that are expected to be played in November and December. I need to work on being able to switch from defence to midfield and the other way round without a problem. Ultimately my speciality is going to be in being a utility player so that is what I need to do. But this is just the start. I need to work harder to be a regular member, he maintains. Theres something in that blue jersey, he says.