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ISL 2021-22: Anwar Ali set to make ISL debut after joining FC Goa

Vasco (Goa), Jan 1 (IANS) Centre-back Anwar Ali is set for his much-awaited Indian Super League (ISL) debut after signing with FC Goa for the ongoing season, moving from Delhi FC. Ali was barred from playing competitive football by the AIFF in 2019 after he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Apical Hypercardiomyopathy (HCM).

However, the 21-year-old was cleared by the AIFF to resume his career in August earlier this year. The former India youth international has now signed an initial one-and-a-half-year contract with FC Goa.

The defender played his first game after a break of over a year for Techtro Swades United before moving on to Delhi FC via Minerva Academy. The youngster starred for Delhi FC in the Durand Cup and the I-League Qualifiers in 2021, scoring four goals in the latter, finishing as top scorer for his side.

Ali has been practising with the team since the beginning of the season and Sunday night's game against Kerala Blasters will mark his long-awaited ISL debut.

"I am just happy that the worst part of my life is now over. This is a new chapter in my life and I want to welcome the opportunity to play football. It has been a long wait to get onto the field at the highest level," said Ali.

"I would like to thank FC Goa at this moment for having faith in me. I have been with the team since the beginning of the season and that has helped me understand the way we play the game. I was ecstatic when I got to know I was going to FC Goa. I didn't know about it till around three days before I had to pack my bags. There is a certain excitement in the air, wh'ch I can't put into words," he added.

Speaking on the signing, FC Goa's Director of Football, Ravi Puskur said, "Anwar is a very exciting prospect. He caught everyone's eyes with his performances for the India U17 team. We have watched him flourish in the days to come with the Indian Arrows."

"He is only 21 years old and has a wonderful future ahead of him. He has the potential to become a difference-maker in the game. In the years to come, we hope to see him play a key role here in FC Goa and for Indian football," he added.

Ali had started his career with Minerva Punjab and then went on to play for the India U17 team in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

After good performances, the youngster was loaned to Indian Arrows for the 2017-18 season before signing with Mumbai City FC. Another loan to the Indian Arrows followed the next season.