Heart condition clouds young Anwar Ali’s football career

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Mumbai City FC’s teenage defender Anwar Ali (Junior) has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in Indian football since first coming into prominence during the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which India had hosted. A tenacious centre-back, Ali has already been on the radar of national team head coach Igor Stimac, who named him in the list of probables for the King’s Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the World Cup qualifiers against Oman, Qatar and Bangladesh. Ali wasn’t eventually included in the final squads for any of these due to injury.

It has now come to light that the young defender has been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, putting in doubt his future in the sport.

Ali recently underwent tests, following which doctors advised him to stay away from the sport. While clarity is still awaited on the exact nature and seriousness of his condition, there remains uncertainty over whether Ali will be able to return to the football field any time soon.

“Yes, a medical condition has been detected. We are in the process of taking him abroad for an expert opinion from someone who is renowned in similar cases. We’re arranging an appointment with top doctors in France, and will hopefully get a clear picture by the end of this month. We are communicating with Mumbai City in this regard,” said Abhishek Yadav, former India international and the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) director of national teams.

Mumbai City CEO Indranil Das Blah said the club is monitoring the development and would make a statement once there is further information on Ali’s condition.

“We are in touch with the federation and will make a statement once there is more clarity. It’s not fair to say anything right now, so we would like to wait for clarity for a couple of days,” he said.A former Minerva Punjab player, Ali had moved to the AIFF-run Indian Arrows team on loan in the I-League shortly after the U-17 World Cup. After signing for Mumbai City in the Indian Super League (ISL) last season, he went back to Arrows on loan again and helped the young side finish eighth in the 11-team league.

The 19-year-old has already been a part of India’s age-group national teams and is seen as a long-term option for the senior side in central defence.