Adil relives Bangladesh tie in Kolkata, says the roar in the wake of his goal will stay with him forever
India lock horns with neighbours Bangladesh in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday.
The last time these two teams played in what was the first match between them in Group E on October 15, 2019 at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium (officially known as the VYBK Stadium) in Kolkata, the Blue Tigers avoided what at one time appeared an imminent defeat by the skin of their teeth.
All thanks to centre-back Adil Khan’s header in the 88th minute of the game. The hosts, who were set back by Md Saad Uddin’s goal in the 42nd minute, managed to salvage a point following a 1-1 draw – to the great relief of spectators in the stadium.
As Igor Stimac’s men prepare themselves for another clash against Bangladesh on Monday, Adil, likely to start for the Blue Tigers after Rahul Bheke’s red-card against Asian champions and Group E leaders Qatar in a 1-0 defeat on Thursday night, relives that famous, high-adrenaline night in Kolkata in an article on the-aiff.com.
“We were nearing the fag end, when we got another of those innumerable corners. Till now, [Sunil] Chhetri-bhai was making the runs to the first post, but he was understandably heavily marked.
“…As I watched Brandon [Fernandes] walk up to take the corner, I gestured to him. Both of us were roommates for that trip to Kolkata, and we used to talk a lot about a goal that I had scored for Churchill Brothers from one of his corners, back in our days in the Hero I-League.
“I told Chhetri-bhai that I will make that run to the first post, and he agreed. Brandon, as usual, was spot on. I somehow managed to leap and connect with the ball properly, and it generated the power and the angle required. I saw the net bulging and heard the roar – some 70,000 people were relieved, cheering my goal, for my country. Life is certainly made of such moments – I went blind, I went deaf. That roar will stay with me forever,” the defender writes ahead of Monday’s clash in the Qatari capital.
The 32-year-old, who had also effected a brilliant goal-line clearance earlier in the game, goes on to reveal as to how things were not exactly propitious for him heading into the Kolkata tie. “Expectations were sky-high in Kolkata as we took on Bangladesh at the VYBK after holding Asian champions Qatar in their own den. Tickets for the match were sold out a week back. The ‘City of Joy’ was absolutely elated.
“But my build-up hit a roadblock. As part of my upbringing, I always call up my dad prior to any match. That day when I called, my mom picked up and informed me that my dad was hospitalised and was to undergo heart surgery the same day.
“I was on the team bus on the way to the stadium. Honestly, I was a bit devastated. My dad has been the biggest football fan and my inspiration. I felt helpless. As we approached the VYBK on the day, I could see the hordes of fans heading for the cauldron.
“I will never forget the roar that greeted us when we walked in. It made me forget everything. For a man, there are days when you feel possessed, possessed with faith and belief that you are invincible on that day. I wanted to dive deep into my national team colours – my desperation to find solace – I wanted to be the son of the soil.
“I looked at the packed stands. They had come from distant corners to watch us, they sacrificed other priorities to watch me. I needed to pay them back,” Adil opens up in an impassioned way.