Aizawl FC won the I-League 2016-17 by a point as they drew against Shillong Lajong in an away fixture on Sunday evening. Coach Khalid Jamil, who is incidentally the longest serving Indian coach in the I-League era, stated that at the start of each season he hoped to lay his hands on the elusive trophy.
“It is my dream. Every time I start a season it is my dream to win the I-League. First I was thinking it will take me two-to-three-or-possibly even six years because it was not realistic to win right away,” said Jamil.
He reiterated his desire to stay at the north eastern club and not opt for greener pastures.
“I will stay. I love Aizawl,” he declared.
Reflecting back on the dream season in the I-League, Jamil credited his players and the fans for supporting the team through thick and thin.
“It is all because of the players and the good support of the fans. I have only one word, ‘Thank You for supporting us’. They give their hundred per cent and always supported us from the first to the 90th minute. Whether at home or away. In all the away fans too, I’ve seen many fans. Thats why I say first the players then the fans,” he shared his thoughts.
Jamil admitted that he was nervous in the closing stages when Shillong Lajong had two good chances to clinch the winner and dent Aizawl’s hopes of being the first north eastern team to win the I-League.
“Yes, I was a little bit nervous. We worked hard and all the players did a good job. I was thinking if we could make it or not,” he said.
Heartiest Congratulations to @AizawlFC . It's been an extraordinary performance from you. Enjoy your moment!— Mohun Bagan (@Mohun_BaganAC) April 30, 2017
Aizawl were trailing at half-time and Jamil was asked on what was his message to the players during the break.
“Only one thing which is ‘You will not get another 45 minutes. This is the last 45 minutes. Just go there and do extra (bit of work).’ Okay you are playing good but extra should be there. Not from only one player but from all the players that are playing. So when you think about it, we can do it. That was all I said,” he elucidated.
Jamil once again highlighted that the players deserve all the plaudits for putting in consistent performances throughout the season.
Indian Football has a new hero in @AizawlFC and only proves that it never matters at what position you start, patience and positivity win!— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) April 30, 2017
“I just give the credit all to the boys. Really it is not about me, all the boys who played continuously for 15-to-16 matches. Alfred (Jaryan) missed this match (due to suspension) otherwise he plays all the games. All the credit goes to the boys only,” he mentioned.
There is a good chance that Aizawl may not be included in next season’s top division league and on being asked to share his opinion on the possible merger between the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL), Jamil replied, “We haven’t thought about it yet but wherever we play, we will play well.”