After his incredible effort in India's draw against Qatar, the team's centre-back Adil Khan has hit back at Igor Stimac's critics who came out in numbers after the Blue Tigers' loss against Oman and has claimed that India has a bright future in football under the tactical ability of the Croatian coach.
India created history by holding Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw in an away fixture of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers played at the Al Sadd stadium, Qatar, on Tuesday. Before this game, on September 5, India lost to Oman after leading in the game till the 82nd minute.
After that loss, coach Igor Stimac came under intense criticism from Indian football fans, particularly relating to their fitness levels and Khan believes that it was unwarranted.
Speaking to Goal, Khan said, "(Against Oman) Only in the last 10 minutes we made some mistakes. We (midfielders) did not drop down when we were supposed to, we (defenders) did not close down when we were supposed to. It was heart-breaking. I know that the entire nation was saddened because of that but I don't consider the loss due to lack of fitness."
Revealing that he thinks India played better football against Oman than against Qatar, Khan stated, "Result wise, of course, people will talk about [the match against] Qatar but as a match I think we played better football against Oman than against Qatar."
Talking about the game against Qatar and whether the team was under pressure, Khan said, "There was no pressure. We knew what we had to do. We knew that if we make even a single mistake in the match, we would concede a goal. Everybody was communicating with each other and everybody was fighting because we didn't want to hear what we heard (after the match) against Oman. So this was our opportunity to prove ourselves and do something good for the nation to talk about."
He continued, "(After the Oman match) We were criticised saying that our defense is not good, fitness is not up to the mark. Against Oman was our first match (after the Intercontinental Cup) and soon after five days, we played against Qatar and you saw the result. There was not a single player who was getting tired, not a single player getting cramps or going down with his fitness."
Finally revealing his thoughts on the future of Indian football under Stimac, Khan concluded, "I can see a bright future for Indian football. With this coach and his ability, I think this team and the coach needs some time to give something to this nation."