Why Anwar Ali's move to Mumbai City FC will be invaluable for the Islanders?
Written by: Waseem Zaidi
The youngster was one of the best performers for the Indian Arrows last season in the I-League.
Fans of Mumbai City FC will surely be getting excited for the upcoming season of the Indian Super League. There have been several revelations recently that have generated a buzz in and around the club. Among the many positives to look forward to, Anwar Ali’s transfer has hogged the limelight.
It must be noted that the defender, who was a crucial part of the Indian squad for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, had been signed by the Islanders on a three-year deal back in June last year from Minerva Punjab for a record transfer fee of INR 30 Lakhs for an U-18 player. The price-tag was considered to be fair and adequate, considering the astounding qualities Anwar Ali brings to the table.
The 18-year-old is energetic and has a composed head while defending. Combine that with towering physicality and one has the perfect recipe for a complete all-round center-back. The stopper already has immense experience under his belt thanks to being part of the exposure tours as part of the AIFF’s developmental project, the Indian Arrows. The Punjab-born player has heavily featured for Indian national team at various youth setups and has been an important part of the age group teams.
As per the AIFF’s (All India Football Federation) regulations, Anwar Ali was to play another season in the I-League for the Indian Arrows, being on loan from his parent club, the 2017/18 I-League champions, Minerva Punjab FC. After the culmination of that particular deal, the defender will be now available to play for Mumbai City from 2019-20 season of the ISL.
Anwar Ali first came into the limelight after being one of the best performers for India at the FIFA U-17 World Cup which was hosted here, back in October 2017. He earned the approval of millions of fans after showing glimpses of his untapped potential and was lauded with exceptional reviews. He also scored a sensational free-kick goal against the U-20 Argentina side, helping the Blue Colts creating history by defeating the six-time U-20 World Champions.
Therefore, having signed Anwar Ali for a record-transfer fee for a teenager is certainly a signal of intent from the Maharashtra-based outfit who will be looking to go one step further than the last season where they were knocked out in the semi-final stage of the playoffs by FC Goa.
Mumbai City FC gaffer, Jorge Costa will be rubbing his hands with excitement on the prospect of working with one of the best talents India has to offer. There isn’t a better head coach Ali could have hoped of working with as the 47-year-old himself was a central-defender in his playing days for various clubs including FC Porto, where he captained the Portuguese club to the UEFA Champions League crown under Jose Mourinho. His valuable inputs would surely bring out the best and further the development of the young prodigy.
A quick look back to the season that went by, one of the takeaways was the lack of depth in an otherwise solid defense that had the likes of Subhashish Bose and Lucian Goian. In scenarios where one of the defenders was unavailable due to injury or suspension, Jorge Costa was found unable to fill the gap with a suitable replacement. Perhaps Anwar Ali is the solution to that ordeal and will either provide support from the bench or might even find himself in the starting lineup.
Another reason why this move proves to be invaluable for Mumbai City is how young the former Minerva Punjab FC defender is. At only 18-years-old, the defender could easily solve defending issues for the next decade.
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Moreover, the signing of the 19-year-old Hmingthan Mawia from Aizawl FC is again an indication that the club is putting it’s faith in budding Indian talent. Perhaps a potential young pairing of the two could be on the cards in the heart of the backline. It will be interesting to see how often does Ali feature for Mumbai City and if he emulates his terrific form on the Indian Super League stage.
The Islanders are clearly making waves to reach the summit of the ISL and stay there for a long time if the young inclusions to the squad are any indication. Couple that with the recent Khel Now exclusive reports which suggested that City Football Group are set to buy a stake in the ISL outfit, investing huge money and bringing in more iconic players to the club, the tide is turning for the Mumbaikars and it cannot be denied that exciting times are ahead for the club and it’s fans.
Published: Sat Jun 22, 2019 04:01 PM IST