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India Football Team is a Family with a Special Bond: Sahal Abdul Samad Opens Up on Friendship with Anirudh Thapa

Indian football team (Photo Credit: AIFF)

Indian football team (Photo Credit: AIFF)

Sahal Abdul Samad made his debut for the Indian men's football team in June of last year and his partnership in mid-field with Anirudh Thapa has blossomed.

Sahal Abdul Samad feels there is ‘special chemistry’ within the National Team unit and it is nothing less than “a family with a special bond".

“Representing the country is the proudest moment for me. I can’t put it in words how we feel wearing the national jersey and singing the national anthem in front of the crowds. It’s a surreal feeling. We all are brothers in the camp and we share special chemistry," Sahal told AIFF during a live interaction.

“When I arrived at the camp for the first time, I preferred to stay quiet on the first day. Slowly, we started to get along. We are a family with a special bond," he added.


The midfielder made his debut for the Indian men’s football team against Curacao in the 2019 King’s Cup on June 5 last year. Since then, the Thapa-Sahal midfield duo has hogged the limelight.

The two have shared a mutual admiration for each other’s qualities, which was evident from their respective chats on AIFF. While AIFF Emerging Player of the Year Anirudh Thapa, during his interview, defined Sahal as the “Golden boy of Indian Football", Sahal praised his counterpart as a “talented passer of the ball".

“Sahal is the Golden Boy of Indian Football. His playing style is exceptional and if anyone watches him on the field, they would fall in love with his game," Thapa had mentioned earlier.

Later, Sahal added, “He (Thapa) is a cute little guy with a bigger heart. He excels under pressure and he is an exceptionally talented passer of the ball. He can execute passes to any spot on the field with ease."

The camaraderie amongst the youngsters is something that has evolved with time. They play FIFA together and the competitiveness to come out as the winner fine-tunes the mutual bonding.

“He (Thapa) is a great guy but he always loses to me in FIFA. He always tries to say that he’s the best. But if he can’t beat me, how can he be the best?" the Kerala-based midfielder said.

“Vineet (Rai), (Lallianzuala) Chhangte and Narender (Gahlot) come first if we rank the FIFA players. Then we can probably recall Thapa," he continued.

Sahal complimented Ashique Kuruniyan for his jovial nature and congratulated him for getting married. Furthermore, he took a dig at the nippy left-winger that hopefully, he would continue to crack jokes even after getting hitched.

“He (Ashique Kuruniyan) is a funny guy off the field. We are roommates and we have a great relationship which has started with the Indian team camp. He is a great team player and can fit into any position."

“Congratulations to him for getting married. I hope he won’t stop being funny after his marriage," Sahal said.

Moreover, he mentioned how Adil Khan insulates and motivates him. The 23-year-old also mentioned how the two often used to go on long rides on their days off.

“We have a lot of fun together. We went for long rides on off days. He takes care of me like my elder brother and always gives me confidence. He’s friendly with everyone," the 23-year-old revealed.

Moreover, he explained why the Indian football team’s head coach Igor Stimac commands so much respect from his wards.

“Coach Igor (Stimac) sees every player equally. I put myself under tremendous pressure on my debut and couldn’t play up to the expectations. He came and told me: Come on Sahal, I know you are under a lot of pressure but you have to play your natural game, and I know you can do better. That’s what makes him so special to every one of us," Sahal said.

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