FC Pune City’s attack this ISL season has posed multiple threats to rival defences. While spearheads Marcelinho (eight goals) and Emiliano Alfaro (seven) are marked men, the real danger comes from roving mid-fielders like Adil Khan, lying in wait for the skillful Brazilian and slippery Uruguayan to pull the anxious defenders with them, creating space for others to exploit.

Four goals from 13 matches, including two strikes from leaping headers, besides two ‘Hero of Match’ awards, means the hard-running India international cannot be overlooked by defenders.

“Marcelinho and Alfaro are very experienced players. We all learn a lot from them during games and in training. Decision-making and technique on the field is fantastic,” said Adil, who is sharper and more decisive in his first ISL season under new chief coach Ranko Popovic.

The first Indian to be picked by previous coach Antonio Habas in the domestic draft, Adil talked about Popovic’s way of getting things done. “The coach gives us specific responsibilities when it comes to the game and only when everyone plays their role is when we see the results. So whenever we get an opportunity to play we make sure to display our skills in the right way,” he said recently.

The 29-year-old said: “Playing with them does give everyone more space. Most of the defenders are busy chasing Marci (Marcelinho), Alfaro, (Jonatan) Lucca, Diego (Carlos), Marko (Stankovic) or (Mohammed) Ashique. Teams by now know that Pune City has multiple players who can score,” said the Indian.

The midfielder denies any extra pressure on Indians to deliver, due to the mandatory rule of fielding six Indian players in the starting XI . “Ranko trusts us when it comes to on-field responsibility. He believes that we are trying to do the right thing. The pressure is when we miss a chance or when we fail to implement team plans, but that’s equal for all players and not only Indians,” said Adil.

“Knee problems kept me out for a while, but I only knew to play football and know that I can’t give up on the game,” added Adil.