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TOI

I accepted to play for India - Omid Singh

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The midfielder must relinquish his Iranian passport and take up an Indian one in order to be eligible to represent the Blue Tigers.

Iranian-born Indian-origin midfielder, Omid Singh has been invited by the current Indian team head coach Igor Stimac to play for the Blue Tigers.

The 28-year old was raised in Iran, but his father holds an Indian passport, which makes him eligible to represent the Indian national team. The midfielder currently plies his trade in Persian Gulf Pro League, the top division of Iran for FC Nassaji Mazandaran. He started his playing career for Iranian outfit, Gahar Zagroz. He then went on to play for top flight clubs like Naft Masjed Soleyman, Esteghlal Khuzestan, Pars Jonoubi and Nassaji.

“I liked to play for Iran national football team, but I was not invited to Team Melli. At the moment, Iran are one of the best teams in Asia and it’s hard to be part of the team. Mr Stimac called me and I accepted to play for India,” Singh told the Tehran Times.

“I am not familiar with the Indian football team but I know that they have progressed a lot in recent years. David James, Robert Pires, Nicolas Anelka, Roberto Carlos and Zico have played in Indian league in the past years,” he added.

Singh is eager to join the Blue Tigers in the near future. However, issues over his jersey number still remain a point of interest. The Iranian player of Indian descent looks to be hellbent on securing the #7 jersey for the Indian national team.

“I always wear #7, but they want to hand me  #17. I hope they give me #7 in India,” he opined.

“India are a rising team in Asia and can compete with the continent’s giants. The team will not surely lose to South Korea with six goals. They have invested in the development of football in the recent years,” Singh stated.

“Many Iranians are unhappy with my decision, but I am going to make them proud. My father is an Indian, however, I was born in Iran,” he concluded.

India strictly does not allow dual passports and only the people with Indian passport are allowed to represent the nation in international competitions.



Omid Singh in action

"It's a huge call for Omid. Certainly, he is a good player who could strengthen the India team but he must decide whether he wants to give up his Iranian passport and take up an Indian one.

"It's a cumbersome process and may take 15 months. If he makes up his mind, we can help him in speeding up the process," a senior AIFF official told TOI.

Earlier the Indian FA has helped players in the process of obtaining a passport. Just before the FIFA U-17 World Cup, Canadian U-17 goalkeeper Sunny Dhaliwal secured an Indian passport and was included in the team. Japanese midfielder Arata Izumi was the first player to go through the process as he later represented the Blue Tigers.

The Indian national team currently gears up for the Intercontinental Cup which begins on 7th July with India locking horns against Tajikistan at the TransStadia in Ahmedabad. 

Published: Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:19 PM IST

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