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Anwar Ali eyes World Cup qualifiers comeback in March

Blue Tigers defender Anwar Ali says he is desperate to hit the pitch as he has been away from it for more than a month and a half due to the ankle injury he sustained in October this year.

Anwar Ali eyes World Cup qualifiers comeback in March

FILE PHOTO: Anwar Ali scores a goal from a header against Machhindra FC in the AFC preliminary round game on August 16, 2023, at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata. (Photo credit: Mohun Bagan)


Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 21 Dec 2023 4:51 AM GMT

Indian football team central defender Anwar Ali is desperate to be back on the pitch to do what he loves - kicking the football. Earlier this month, he was ruled out of 50-member India probables announced by coach Igor Stimac for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in Qatar to be held in January.

The India and Mohun Bagan Super Giant defender has been out of competitive football for more than a month and a half since he sustained a right ankle injury against Basundhara Kings during an AFC Cup match on October 25.

In the second half of the game, Anwar bumped into the ground while taking a shot. He was soon seen writhing in pain. Though the medical staff of the club attended him on the pitch, Anwar couldn't carry on. He had to be stretched off the ground. He left the stadium with bandages wrapped around his injured ankle. Later, in the scan, he was diagnosed with an ankle injury.

"I cannot sit back anymore. I am disappointed. It has been a long time I am away from the ground. I want to hit the pitch and do what I love to do - play football," Anwar told The Bridge.

"My target is to play the World Cup qualifiers scheduled after the Asian Cup," added the 23-year-old.

India will play its next FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying match against Afghanistan on March 21.

"The bandage will be removed in two to three days the doctor told me. Right now, I am just doing upper body exercises because I cannot put much pressure on the lower body. It may aggravate the injury," stressed the Jalandhar boy.

But before he hits the ground, there is a long process to follow - the rehab and conditioning to make him ready for the ground drill.

Anwar also said that he is looking forward to moving to Kolkata to begin his rehabilitation programme with Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

"Once the bandage is opened, I will begin my rehabilitation in Kolkata. I have been in constant touch with the physios of the Indian team and Mohun Bagan, and Igor Stimac and Juan Ferrando have also been calling me regularly and enquiring about my well being," added the star defender.

In Anwar's absence, India coach Stimac is going to face a major challenge as his team goes up against mighty Australia on January 13 in the opening game of the Asian Cup.

His presence in the deep defence and understanding with Sandesh Jhingan was deemed to be crucial for India's prospects at the continental event.

As Anwar has missed out on the Asian Cup, the Indian defence is expected to be helmed by Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose.

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