Kerala Blasters midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad has one goal and two assists in his two full seasons in ISL…
Sahal Abdul Samad is one of the many Indian footballers whose life changed after the introduction of the Indian Super League (ISL).
For Sahal, the decision to sign for Kerala Blasters has turned his life around. He started out with the reserve team, impressed David James with his performances and earned a first-team spot. He has not had to look back ever since.
His glittering midfield displays in the 2018-19 season even though the team failed to perform as a whole caught the eyes of football aficionados and pundits alike. He also won the Emerging Player of the Season gong from both the ISL and the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
Going into the seventh season of ISL, Sahal now has to show the world that the hype is real.
Footballers love to perform in front of a large crowd. But with the ISL matches set to be played behind closed doors in Goa this season. it is also an opportunity to convey a message about how good a player is to the fans back at home.
Like many of his teammates, Sahal also struggled on the field during what was an injury-hit campaign under Eelco Schattorie last season. After starting 16 matches in the previous season, last season saw the Kerala midfielder only getting nine starts.
The talented Malayali footballer has one goal and two assists to his name in two full seasons of ISL – not a pretty statistic even for a midfielder. The two assists he has were registered when he was given chance last season but there were defensive flaws in the player’s game that were exposed due to the system in which the team played and the number of injuries that the squad endured.
With the ball at his feet, Sahal is a delight to watch at time. His national teammate Sunil Chhetri holds him in high regard and with good reason. But the last thing he himself would want is a tag of ‘one-season wonder.’
Indian football’s history teaches us how wonder kids can slowly fade away and fail to reach their potential. With a lot of expectations and attention on Sahal to play a key role in Kibu Vicuna’s midfield, the 2020-21 season will define the kind of talent that he is.
Kerala Blasters are once again a new team this season. Sahal is part of a talented Indian midfield which will also have Jeakson Singh, Givson Singh and Arjun Jayaraj in addition to experienced foreigners such as Vicente Gomez who has played against the top teams in La Liga.
The boy from Kerala can learn and grow at Kerala Blasters – which is why he recently signed a contract extension till 2025. And he will surely hope last season doesn’t repeat itself as playing time is crucial for any player’s development.