Asian Cup 2019: Meet Iraq's Gourav Mukhi, the tournament's 'youngest' player at 18
While Gourav Mukhi is making headlines for all the wrong reasons after it came to light that he is neither a 16-year-old nor the ISL's youngest goalscorer, a similar story from the Iraqi national team has been brushed under the carpet.
It was only a couple of days ago that Sportskeeda named 18-year old Mohanad Ali Kadhim as Iraq's youngest player in the upcoming Asian Cup squad. The young striker also happened to be the youngest player to play the tournament this year. However, reports have completely different stories to tell.
A report from December 2017 states that an Iraqi player was found to represent the national youth team with his brother's identity. Hassan Ali Kadhim, which is his real name, was born in 1997. However in 2014, the player was accused of using his younger brother's identity to become eligible to represent Iraq in the U-14 AFC Championship. The fake identity gave him the name Mohanad Ali and a year of birth of 2000. The striker played the championship and emerged the top scorer.
But the foul play was soon brought into the light and the player had to use his real name Hassan Ali. As a result, he was not considered for selection for any international age-group campaigns that Iraq played a part of. The forward went onto represent Al-Shurta and Al-Kahraba clubs in his nation.
Things changed when a court verdict came in 2017. The same player who represented two clubs under the name Hassan Ali was allowed to obtain a new passport under the name Mohanad Ali. He could also change his date of birth to the year 2000.
The court favoured the player saying he had already represented Iraq and had been issued his own AFC identification with a date of birth of 2000.
In short, the whole tale is - a player named Hassan Ali represented Iraq U-14 with his brother Mohanad Ali's documents, which made him eligible for the tournament. After being found guilty, Hassan Ali appealed the decision in court, which favoured the player for a strange reason. Now, the player holds a passport with the name Mohanad Ali Kadhim and he certified to be younger than he actually is.
After clearing the formalities, Hassan Ali is now part of the Iraq senior team and is preparing to represent the country at the continental championship. The current documents he holds makes him the youngest player in the tournament.
However, in a clear case of age fraud like this, the organisers AFC should open their eyes and make it fair to all other participating teams.
As of now, the strange and interesting story remains as it is with a player representing his nation with his brother's identity.