Anwar Ali ready to make a comeback, signs for Mohammedan SC

Anwar Ali has joined Mohammedan SC and will return to Indian football after spending nearly a year away from the sport due to a career-threatening heart condition.

Anwar Ali

Anwar Ali, 20, has signed for Mohammedan SC, which is aiming to win promotion to the I-League from the upcoming second division qualifiers.   -  Special Arrangement

Highly-rated young central defender Anwar Ali is set to make a comeback to Indian football after he spent close to a year away from the game due to a career-threatening medical condition.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old signed for Mohammedan SC, which is aiming to win promotion to the I-League from the upcoming second division qualifiers. Last year, Anwar had been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, which ruled him out of the Indian Super League (ISL) season with Mumbai City FC.

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Mumbai City and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had sent the youngster to France for a consultation with a specialist, who had also declared that Anwar wasn’t medically cleared to play. The player and the club then decided to mutually terminate the contract earlier this year.

Contrary to a report, the Punjab-born footballer hasn’t undergone any treatment but has personally sought a medical clearance, which would enable him to play football again. “I hadn't done any treatment. I had undergone an echocardiogram test and I was told I can play again. During lockdown, I practised and I didn’t feel anything to my heart. I am fully okay,” Anwar told Sportstar.

“I feel so grateful to return to football again and I am glad I signed for Mohammedan,” he added.

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Dipendu Biswas, football secretary of Mohammedan, believes Anwar's condition is stable. "He provided us with a medical report which states he can play football again. We will conduct medical tests, both physical and for COVID-19, for all the players involved with us on Sunday,” said Biswas.

Dr. E. Arunachalam, a cardiologist, however, has cautioned against Anwar rushing back to football. He says, "If corrective surgery can be done, then he can engage in sports. If it cannot be done, he shouldn't engage himself in strenuous activities. If he is fit for operation, which can be determined after a catheterisation process, then the doctors can go ahead with the surgery. If the surgery cannot be done, our advice would be to not play or even do isometric exercises [lifting weights]."

Mohammedan will have to submit a pre-competition medical assessment (PCMA) to the AIFF, which the federation will have to approve before Anwar can return to action.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said the federation is looking into the player’s situation. “We are monitoring the situation and we will need to go through the medical record of the player from his diagnosis in France to the current one he has produced now. Anwar’s case is important and we will see if the player is medically cleared before the player can be registered for the competition.”

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Anwar was part of India's home U-17 FIFA World Cup campaign in 2017 and had started in all three group games. He signed for Mumbai City on a three-year deal in 2018 and spent the 2018-19 season on loan at Indian Arrows.

Indian national team coach Igor Stimac had named Anwar in the probables list for the Kings Cup and the Intercontinental Cup and also in the first three matches of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers last year, but he didn’t make the final squad.

The second division I-League qualifiers are likely to start in the third week of September. The schedule will be finalised once the central government guidelines are issued.

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