Sahal Abdul Samad has emerged as a mainstay in the Indian team in a short span of time but the 22-year-old has said that he always tries to make sure that pressure of expectation does not affect his game. He credits his club for his rise to the national team for the development he received there.
Samad started as a reserve player for Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League but cameos during the 2017-18 season prompted the then head coach David James to make him a starter for the next ISL season and since then the midfielder has not looked back.
The United Arab Emirates-born midfielder missed only one game for Kerala Blasters in what was a disappointing 2018-19 season, where they finished second last, since then Samad has emerged as the midfield mainstay for the Kochi-based side. He says he is trying to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
“I am just trying to enjoy each game that I play. Every footballer has to go through this kind of pressure. But I am just making sure that it is not affecting my game,” Samad said to the PTI.
The current emerging player of the year for both the AIFF and the ISL, Samad’s style and technique on the ball caught the eye of national team coach Igor Stimac and soon he was part of the India squad. He debuted against Curacao in the King's Cup in June and was part of the midfield that took on Oman and Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers.
The Keralite showed his prodigious talent against his more fancied opponents as the Blue Tigers held Asian Cup champions Qatar to a memorable goalless draw.
“It has been nothing short of amazing [to play for India]. It is a dream for any youngster to represent the nation. It was no different with me and that dream has come true,” said Samad, who has made the Indian squad for the October 15 World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh.
“Each player is important in the squad as football is a team game. We all feel the same pressure playing for the badge. I am lucky to play for the millions of Kerala Blasters fans. It is great to feel valued. Every football club aims for the ultimate trophy. It is the same for us. We want to win the ISL."
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi