Namit Deshpande, Sunny Dhaliwal Not Included in U-19 Asian Championship

NRI players Namit Deshpande and Sunny Dhaliwal won’t be a part of the U-19 Asian Championships.


Namit Deshpande and Sunny Dhaliwal, the two Non-Resident Indian (NRI) football players who were part of the Under-17 World Cup squad, will not be playing in the Under-19 Asian Championship qualifiers. Deshpande has returned to the United States for his education while Dhaliwal is expected to return to Canada soon.

Deshpande created history as he was the first NRI to represent India in the starting line for the FIFA U-17 World Cup match against Colombia at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Oct.9. He holds an Indian passport but lives in Maryland. His parents moved to the United States when he was eight. India lost the match to Colombia 2-1.

Colombian coach Orlando Restrepo said that Deshpande and fellow center-back Anwar Ali were the best Indian performers in the match against Colombia.

Deshpande was a member of the Bethseda Soccer Club in Maryland.

“Once I go back to the USA, I plan on going back to the drawing board and look at my options. I am not sure yet on what I want to do in the future and will speak with my parents on the pros and cons of either decision,” he told the Times of India.

Dhaliwal, who gave up his Canadian citizenship for an Indian passport, did not play in any of the matches. He plays in the position of goalkeeper and is a graduate of the Toronto FC Academy. He had played 15 matches for the academy.

“Having a player of that height in Sunny is a bonus and with the proper training and infrastructure provided to him, I am sure he sees his future in India,” chief operating officer (COO) of the India U-17 team, Abhishek Yadav told the newspaper. “As a player, he wants to be a future star of the senior national men’s team and being a part of this U-17 World Cup at home will go a long way in him establishing himself as a top prospect.”

The two NRI players were selected by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) after an online scouting process.

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