Indian-origin Canadian goalkeeper Sunny Dhaliwal has been recruited into the Indian squad for FIFA Under-17 World Cup, after he procured an Indian passport on July 27. Sunny is the second NRI inclusion on the team after the squad drafted US-based Namit Deshpande in April this year.
Dhaliwal has Dual Citizenship
However, unlike Namit who holds an Indian passport, Sunny has both Indian and Canadian passports. According to sports ministry officials, the Indian law allows minors to have multiple citizenships. Once a minor turns 18, he must make a choice within six months whether he wants to retain Indian or foreign citizenship. Speaking to Times Of India AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said:
“Sunny has got his passport and will join the team in Mexico. It was a (lengthy) process but I am thankful to (AIFF) president Praful Patel, the sports ministry and the home ministry who made this possible.”
6 feet 5 inch tall goalkeeper was scouted through All India Football Federation’s online portal. He had attended a 10-day trial in Goa early this year and impressed the Portuguese coach Luis Norton de Matos.Several Major League Soccer clubs had also kept him on their radar after he trialed with DC United and Chicago Fire last month. He had joined Toronto FC Academy in 2016.
‘A Big Advantage’
According to a member of India’s Under-17 coaching staff, Sunny is a big advantage on a tournament like the World Cup but he still needs to work hard to get into the starting eleven.
The Under-17 team currently has four goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Mohammad Nawaz and Tamal Naskar. Dheeraj Singh is looked at as the choice for starting eleven at the moment.
The team will leave for Mexico late this week to play friendlies against Mexico on August 3, Colombia on August 4th and Chile on August 6th. The team will be facing Colombia in their group stage matches later this year. These friendlies, as head coach Luis Norton de Matos is a “test of their training.”