Sahal has a big march of progress as a football player: Kerala Blasters FC boss Ivan Vukomanovic

Sahal Abdul Samad scored a brilliant solo-goal in Kerala Blasters' 3-1 win over Mumbai City FC and it was the midfielders fifth goal of the campaign.

Kerala Blasters FC midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad; Credit: Twitter/@sahal_samad
By Sreejith C R | Mar 4, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Kerala Blasters FC returned to the top four of the Indian super League (ISL) points table after the dominant 3-1 win over Mumbai City FC on Wednesday. It was a complete team performance from the Blasters as they dominated the entire ninety minutes. One of many good performers of the night was midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad. The 24-year-old India international opened the scoring with a brilliant solo-goal on 19 minutes before Alvaro Vazquez sealed all three points with a brace.

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Head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was impressed with the progress Sahal has made this season and expressed his happiness during the post-match press conference. The Serbian said: “He (Sahal) has a big march of progress as a football player. He can even get better if he continues to work like that. I am very happy that he has scored around five goals this season.

It was a sensational goal from the Kerala boy. Rahul Beke’s not-so-convincing defensive header fell to Sahal, 25-yards away from goal. The 24-year-old dribbled past Cassinho and Apuia courtesy of some beautiful footwork and body feint, dropped his shoulder to move away from Mourtada fall and make space for a shot, and then placed the ball into the bottom corner, giving no chance to the wrong-footed Mohamad Nawaz. 

It was the talented youngsters fifth goal of the season, making him the fourth highest Indian goalscorer, only behind Liston Colaco (7), Manvir Singh (6) and Bipin Singh (6). It has been a wonderful season for Sahal so far, having started in 18 of the 19 games. Sahal has been touted as the next big thing in Indian football for a while since making his ISL debut in the 2017-18 season. He won the ISL Emerging player award in 2019 and went on to make his national team debut the same year.

However the former Kannur University player has struggled to live up to the expectations. The following seasons weren’t too great for him and the club as he failed to score even a single ISL goal for four years since netting his debut goal against Chennaiyin FC on February 15, 2019. 

Sahal’s off-the-ball movements have improved

His potential and abilities with the ball were there to be seen for all but there was very little output. He was playing more like a street footballer who has all the tricks and skills in his bag but created very little goal-scoring chances for the team. However, Vukomanovic seems to have unlocked the beast in him as he is coming good this season.

The fans are seeing a different Sahal this time around, who knows when to use his tricks and at the same time doesn’t drop the pace of the game . Moreover, his off the ball movements have been impressive, as he very often makes those inside runs, interchange positions with the forwards, gets into goal scoring positions and making it difficult for the opposition defenders. 

In addition to Sahal’s attacking abilities he has been working hard for the team defensively. He has made 66 tackles and 17 interception in 19 appearances.

Blasters need just one more point from their last league game against FC Goa on Sunday to go through to the semi-finals. The Kochi-based team had an impressive start to the campaign, going unbeaten in 10 games before having a slight slump after the Coronavirus break, but the Yellow army are now peaking at the right time.

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