Our resident expert Dev Trehan brings you a special bumper edition of South Asians in Football Weekly after a momentous week in the game…
Last week got off to a flyer as Sky Sports News exclusively revealed that trailblazing former Liverpool and Bristol City forward Simran Jhamat had joined West Brom.
The attacker got her first start for her new club in the FA Women’s Northern Premier clash away at Liverpool Feds, with Jhamat winning the corner from which West Brom’s only goal came from in a 2-1 loss.
Mariam Mahmood, who has had four goal contributions in four West Brom matches this term, also featured in the game, coming on as a first-half substitute for the Baggies.
Kira Rai – who features alongside Jhamat and Mahmood in the first-ever timeline and display, documenting the journey of South Asian heritage players in the modern women’s game – built on her impressive recent showing against Liverpool Feds by sparking Derby County’s comeback in a spectacular 7-1 win against Stourbridge.
The Sikh-Punjabi attacker came off the bench to get an assist against Liverpool Feds, and was rewarded with a start against Stourbridge, who took the lead at the Dom Amott Arena through Niamh Deasy.
But when a precision cross early in the second half from Rai was converted by Charlotte Steggles, the floodgates opened – with Maria Timms and Eleanor Ashton scoring two apiece as Sam Griffiths’ side picked up their first points of the season in style.
Fort William cult hero Shadab Iftikar was also in the news last week as he made a return to frontline coaching after being appointed as the new manager of the Pakistan U19 side.
Iftikar became the first British South Asian ever to manage in senior Scottish football when he took on a six-month spell at Scottish Highland League side Fort William, ending in May last year.
But like many South Asian heritage managers, Preston-born Iftikar has struggled to get an opportunity domestically and he will now continue his journey as head coach of Pakistan’s U19s.
It’s been a whirlwind fortnight for Birmingham-born Pakistan international midfielder Rahis Nabi.
Nabi saw a lucrative move to Belgian side to Eendracht Aalst fall through at the last minute, but the former England U17 international has now completed a move to Nicosia-based Cypriot side Digenis. Nabi’s elder brother Adil is also playing in Nicosia, with the forward already picking up three MVP awards this term at Doxa Katokopias.
It was a week of mixed fortunes for former Manchester United youngster Zidane Iqbal, who was sent off late on in Iraq’s penalty shootout win against India in the semi-final of the Kings Cup.
Iqbal, whose father is British-Pakistani, picked up a red card after catching Brandon Fernandes with a stray arm, which saw him miss Sunday’s final in Bangkok. Iraq ended up lifting the trophy though, beating host nation Thailand on penalties in the final.
There was also a historic moment during Apollon’s match with Samegrelo in the first round of UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying, with 21-year-old Manisha Kalyan becoming the first Indian ever to score in the competition in a 3-0 win for Apollon that saw the Cypriot side progress to the next round of qualifying.
Goalkeeper Rohan Luthra continued his fine form with a clean sheet for Slough Town in a 2-0 win against Aveley.
Luthra is on loan from Cardiff City where he last season became the first British South Asian ever to appear in goal in the top two divisions of English football in a story exclusively revealed by Sky Sports News.
Some fans made the trip all the way from South Wales to cheer him on at Arbour Park as there was no Championship football due to the international break – and they left happy, with the 6ft 5in Punjabi shot stopper putting in an assured display to help the Rebels pick up a much-needed three points.
Nathan Minhas, who scored a spectacular overhead kick against Torquay United at the end of last month, also featured in the game, coming on as a second-half substitute as Slough picked up their first league win at home this season.
Sutton United academy graduate Imran Kayani, who left Slough at the end of last season, has joined Whitehawk following a brief spell at Dover Athletic.
The attacker, who is eligible to play international football for Pakistan, made his Hawks debut in a 2-1 win over Canvey Island at the weekend.
Sheffield United full-back Sai Sachdev helped England U19s round off their trip to Spain in style with a 4-2 victory over Switzerland.
Sachdev featured as a second-half substitute in the win against the Swiss after playing the full 90 minutes against Germany earlier last week.
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