Indian player of the season – Hyderabad FC

This article is a part of our Indian Player of the Season (IPS) series, where we talk about the best Indian player from each club.

The star Indian defender Adil Khan was quite in demand in the market and got a lot of lucrative offers from major ISL clubs like ATK FC, Kerala Blasters and FC Goa. However he has dedicated his future to Hyderabad FC. Hyderabad FC have announced that Adil Khan has signed a new deal that will keep him at the club till the Indian Super League 2023 season.

The veteran: Adil Khan

The 31-year-old, with his tireless performances as a box-to-box midfielder in the ISL and as a CB in the Indian National team has proved his worth and importance in the team, his experience is really important specially for the young players such as Narender Gahlot and Sahal Abdul Samad.

Speaking on his contract extension Adil said, “I’m happy to make Hyderabad my home for the next 3 years. I have faith in this club and its management and believe we will have better luck and achieve greater success in the next few seasons.”

The midfielder cum defender started his professional footballing career with Sporting Clube de Goa where he played for them in the Second Division and I-League for five years. Thereafter, he began his journey by representing Mohun Bagan, Delhi Dynamos, Bharat FC, Lonestar Kashmir, and Churchill Brothers.

Adil had made his debut for the Blue Tigers in 2012 before making a comeback seven years later under Igor Stimac in the King’s Cup 2019.

“Being recalled to the Indian team this year (2019) was somewhat a reincarnation for me as a footballer”  – Adil Khan 

His comeback was a high point in his life but things were pretty difficult for him when India had to face Bangladesh in the World Cup Qualifier because his dad was in operation theatre as he fought for India.

Adil’s father, Badrudin Khan, was in hospital with two heart blockages and needed surgery. The surgery, his family told him, would happen later that evening, when the defender would line-up for India against Bangladesh in a World Cup 2022 qualifier at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata. He kept everything to himself and took a deep breath and started warming up and still took the field as if nothing had happened.

Initially his game didn’t felt like his game or his playing style , but gradually he showed everyone who Adil Khan is and scored a banger on the 88th minute, equalizing 

India with Bangladesh and dedicated his goal to his father, wife and injured defender Sandesh Jhingan, Adil said he was happy with the performance but not the result.

Adil rushed to Goa and discovered that his father was recovering well after a successful surgery.

Like every other player , Adil had to switch to Hyderabad FC as Pune City FC shifted their base to Hyderabad under Phil Brown. During the pre season 

Hyderabad FC played a pre-season friendly against an I-League club Real Kashmir FC on 4 October 2019. They drew the match 1–1 with Laldanmawia Ralte scoring the solitary goal for the Hyderabad side.

It was only after gaffer Phil Brown’s departure that the “City of Nawabs” got back to playing well. The addition of former Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca as their instructor mid season further boosted their progress. But it was a little too late for the team to do much and get back to the top half of the league table. But the team management is surely working to develop a strong team for the next season 

With a dull season in the Hero ISL campaign this season Adil Khan was one of those bright spots that the team needed the most, his performance as the defence was extremely amazing throughout his 9 appearances for the team. He came up with 59 tackles all together in his appearances, 12 interceptions, 27 clearances, and 7 blocks despite playing as a midfielder.

Adil Khan surely deserves to the player of the season because his crucial 27 clearances helped the team to atleast sustain the season and prepare them for a better season ahead. Despite being at the bottom of the table this season he has extended his contract for the same team which surely is a positive step put forward by him to bring glory to Hyderabad FC. 

Recommendations to level up Indian Football by the visionary Ranjit Bajaj

In a recent webinar 

IFBA ( Indian Football Businesses Awards) hosted Mr. Ranjit Bajaj as the guest speaker on the topic : 

Football entrepreneurship and innovation 

The owner of Minerva Academy, and extremely enigmatic Mr. Ranjit Bajaj strongly believes in two things which can lead anyone to heights of success i.e. Passion and Belief, perhaps that’s what led Minerva to win 7 I-League titles . 

Ranjit Bajaj with the I-League trophy

He wants to promote  Indian football and create an atmosphere where people from our country come out to support the local clubs and watch us win the World Cup. For this he quoted  “For winning the World Cup We need hundred Minervas to increase the talent pool” which he said is surely possible. You only need to start working with passion. 

When asked about finding the right balance between football and business and that which is more important he replied ” Business for me is also not a business , i started following my love i.e. The Indian Armed Forces and started training the future of Indian Armed Forces.” To which he added , Football for him is also love and his love for the two is incomparable. 

The man who has revolutionized the Indian football Entrepreneurship scenario recently created history by selling the club to a corporate business house. It was surely a brave move , but his motive behind this was to promote local talent so that the club should not be a buying club but be a selling club which could provide World class players , he didn’t do it with the thought to become national champions because that’s not the way to succeed.

Explaining the correct way he added :

“the first thing in the mind of the person should be , do you have passion for it ,do you have love for it 

will you go through this no matter what happens even if you don’t succeed you will have no problems. The whole world will work against you , the state will not support you the federation will not support you, you will not get any sponsors and are still willing to go through all this then come out with a smile on your face if you fail , if you are willing to do all that then you should get into this” 

The underdogs Minerva FC started with no sponsorships or state support , no government support  unlike clubs like Mohun Bagan , East Bengal and Real Kashmir but still managed to compete against them and managed to win, it was all because of passion.

The revolutionist never wanted to pay and play and always believed on merit to join the I- League . 

The plan to make a successful team is by giving more game time to players be it the pre existing senior players with deserving juniors as this amalgamation can create a team with variety and versatility , both the youngsters and senior players will compliment each other’s game.  

Changes a pre existing club needs to do in order to grow !

Coming onto running an existing club in India the changes Mr. Ranjit wants involve, preparing a financial fair play in leagues such as the I- League. He wants the federation to put a cap on expenditure. Providing examples he added clubs such as Bengaluru FC (when playing in the I-League), Mohun Bagan and East Bengal could spend as much money as they wanted. Mohun Bagan did pay Sony Norde a salary of 3.5- 4 crore rupees a year while the same year budget of Minerva was just 1.4 crore and still they won the I- League. So instead of investing so much money on one player if a club invests  on a World class academy then they will have an amazing player every year who can assure them the title. 

Ranjit sir is creating a team for the FIFA World Cup 2034 which involves players of the age of 5-10 years , talking about the feasibility and possibility of this plan he explained that young players when trained from the very start will have many pros such as family involvement which can help create the culture and atmosphere of football in a family and infuse football in the coming genes , second when trained and played against top teams from the very start  players will play on the basis of face value and not by the value of the team or a player on global platform this will help in letting out the fear of not being able to perform equally as foreign players and clubs and would ultimately prove the statement completely wrong.

“The moment we start playing these international teams from a young age we are going to beat them”

He in fact also let out his scouting secrets so that clubs could learn from this and work for football and raising, training true talent rather than just doing business and giving opportunities on pay and play  basis.

Further when asked about his past in england as a college student and how Indian football is different than English Football he praised Calcuta and said the culture he experienced in England he experienced the same footballing culture in Bengal , he also added ” you are born in a club , you don’t have a choice” 

He did the part time  job of a Stuart in league matches back in England which provided him the chance to experience the culture of football there and how football for countries like England , Germany, Spain is not just a sport but an essential service. Rivalries and rebels between kids and parents in England didn’t include disobeying them  but following the rival club of their father’s favourite club, and that’s a good kind of rivalry one which indirectly unites ! 

His suggestion to develop football in the grassroot included a suggestion for the AIFF to reduce the fee of the exams to become a coach let it be of D,C,B or A license because the high fee prohibits potential coaches to get licensed hence blocking the growth of football .

Secondly there is no such thing as a solidarity fee for clubs who provide great players to financially strong and top league clubs providing absolutely no reason to someone to start a new academy or club.

If there would be a solidarity fee provided to the  initial club from where a player started his career. This would increase the enthusiasm of the small club or academy and allow them to work even harder to find great talent more often.

Although Minerva had a tie up with Borussia Mönchengladbach but Ranjit sir said that the only reason a foreign club wants to be in our country is to generate revenue, no foreign club wants to actually uplift Indian football and the game in India. But on the positive side we can use these clubs to provide exposure to our local lads and make them play against them more often. 

Replying to the final question i.e. what does it take to sustain an academy for a longer period of time?

Paaji firmly said “it’s all Passion, Love and hardwork. Passion will take you there , hard-work will keep you going, but whenever you fail , passion makes sure you keep working hard” 

These golden words by him are enough for a person to keep going in whichever field they love and have passion for.

Ranjit sir rested his case by finally saying that Minerva is going nowhere it is there and it will remain the factory to produce the best Football talent India has and his aim in his lifetime is to not only see India win the World Cup but thrash other countries in it, and it’s his promise to make India reach the World Cup by 2034 or by 2038.

That were the suggestions, requests and words of a Legend , a man full of passion and a true visionary.

We love you Paaji ❤️⚽.