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FIFA U-17 World Cup: Goalkeeper Sunny Dhaliwal renounces Canadian citizenship to represent India

1.56K   //    05 Aug 2017, 14:44 IST

Sunny Dhaliwal (R) is the newest addition to the India U-17s
Sunny Dhaliwal (R) is the newest addition to the India U-17s

What’s the story?

After the successful signing of Namit Deshpande as India's first-ever NRI player, Indian-origin Canadian goalkeeper Sunny Dhaliwal is now set to don the tricolour. The Toronto FC Academy graduate has denounced his Canadian passport and is now a citizen of India.

Confirming the arrival of the squad's newest member, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the India U-17 team, Abhishek Yadav was quoted as saying by Goal India: “We are delighted to have him on board and would like to thank the authorities as well as Sunny's determination to finally procure an Indian passport. Even though he was a Person of Indian Origin (PIO), he has denounced his Candian passport and is now a citizen of India."

Earlier, Sportskeeda had reported that Dhaliwal was under consideration but he was held back on bureaucratic grounds. His selection to the Indian team was later confirmed.

Lauding the 17-year-old custodian, Yadav added, "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. 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.

In case you did not know

Standing at a towering height of 6 feet 5 inches, the youngster joined Toronto FC Academy in 2016 from his community club, Woodbridge Strikers Soccer. The 17-year-old was recruited via the club's website, where potential talents could upload video content and apply for a trial with the squad. Sunny, went on to make 15 appearances for the Toronto outfit, before leaving the team for the Indian national U-17 squad. 

Dhaliwal also caught the eye of several senior Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs and had earned invitations for trials with stalwarts such as DC United and Chicago Fire earlier in June.

The heart of the matter

The Indian visa laws dictate that a person cannot hold a dual citizenship, although there is an exception of minors. Those under the age of eighteen are eligible for the dual citizenship. Also, both the Canadian and Indian laws state that a person, upon completing his eighteenth birthday, will have a further six months time to declare his/her nationality.

A former national team striker and an integral cog in the Indian Colts setup, Yadav has assured that there would arise no complication and it will be a smooth process.

What’s next?

The Indian team is currently playing the Torneo de 4 Naciones Tournament in Mexico City, as part of its preparations for the U-17 World Cup. The Colts will take on Chile tomorrow in their final group stage match.

Author’s take

The foreign scouting program will be open until the end of September, till the final squad is announced. With the U-17 World Cup knocking on the door, it remains to be seen if Dhaliwal’s addition in the lineup amounts to any advantage for the Colts 

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