A 14-member Indian contingent will be flying to Greece as they embark on a historic journey – their maiden stint in this year International Socca Federation (ISF) World Cup, starting on October 12.
The contingent – that has an interesting mix of both experience and youth will see them play a series of matches in a week against some formidable opponents that could help them reach the pinnacle of success in just a week’s time.
The Indian Team will be managed by none other than the evergreen I.M. Vijayan, fondly known as the “Black Buck” of Indian football. In a career of close to 20 years, Vijayan was once the Indian Football Team’s top scorer with 29 goals from 66 matches. A recipient of many top sporting awards, including the prestigious Arjuna award, Vijayan was also crowned Indian player of the year thrice in 1993, 1997 and 1999. The captain of the Indian team from 2000 to 2004 will be shouldering an immense responsibility as he dons the coach’s hat this time around.
The captain of the side will be the famed Raman Vijayan. The Tamil Nadu based footballer too has a wealth of experience of having featured in the then National Football League (Now, I-League) for top teams such as East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting, Mahindra United, FC Kochi, and Dempo from 1996. While his playing days are surely behind him now, Raman, who successfully runs an academy, is all set to make a comeback as a player once again. The top scorer of the 1997 National Football League (NFL), one expects Vijayan will be able to roll back time in the gorgeous Greek island of Crete.
Shouldering the responsibility in the midfield is the veteran Climax Lawrence. The Goa-born footballer was once hailed as the midfield maestro of the Indian Football team and was an automatic selection in the team from 2003 to 2011 at a stretch and earned 72 caps for the Blue Tigers. He also represented top Indian clubs such as Salgaocar SC, East Bengal, Dempo, Mumbai FC and ISL side ATK FC.
Among the youth players who were chosen to be a part of this prestigious tournament, Mumbai lad Siddharth Singh makes it to the top of the list. The 26-year-old who plays as a forward had quite a journey in football so far. Having started playing quite early, Siddharth’s talent was well noticed during his school days as he deservedly earned a chance to train at Arsenal FC after he was picked up through a national level scouting event. The 5ft 7 inch forward was also drafted by Jamshedpur FC to play in the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) and had stints with PIFA Colaba FC and DSK Shivajians in the past.
The other notable face in the side is Bangalore born Shaikh Inayath. Having started his football career at the age of just 11, Inayath represented his school, college as well as Bangalore District Football Association (BDFA). Having trained with FC Barcelona, Real Madrid C.F. in Spain and Al Shabab Club in Dubai, he also featured in the Premer Futsal League in the country when he was bought by the Kerala Cobras.
Last but not least, the team will also see another talented footballer in the name of Mohammed Umar Bajaria. Having established himself as a regular Futsal player, Bajaria has the experience of taking part in different international tournaments, notably the U-23 Asia Futsal Cup held in Malaysia in 2014 and Premier Futsal in Dubai in 2017. He also trained with the London International Futsal Club and took part in Pro Futsal London in 2018 and 2019 respectively. He is now part of the FIFA Global Fan Movement and is based in Mumbai.
Keeping all these in mind, the Indian Team will look forward to starting their campaign on a high as they take on Russia in the tournament opener on October 12.
All matches will be broadcast live on www.soccafederation.com