In conversation with Anwar Ali3-May, 2012
Born on September 24, 1984, Anwar Ali was a student of the Rurka Kalan Academy in Punjab. He joined Mohun Bagan last year from Dempo Sports Club. While playing for JCT, he was awarded the most promising defender during the 2006 Durand Cup. He was part of the victorious Indian National team in the AFC Challenge Cup 2008. He was also a part of the Indian team that beat Syria in the tie breaker to win the Nehru Cup final in 2009. Seeing Anwar Ali's performance this season against East Bengal, Technical Director Subrata Bhattacharya said, "The way Anwar played today, I have not seen any Indian defender delivering such a performance in the last 3-4 years."
MMB: Tell us about your experience of playing for McDowell Mohun Bagan.
Anwar: It has been a fantastic experience playing for this club which has so many supporters to cheer for the team. I have got good support from the officials, coach, my team mates as well as the supporters.
MMB: How do you rate the performance of McDowell Mohun Bagan this season?
Anwar: After we made a good start to the I-League, we lost some crucial points, mainly because a few key players of our team got injured and we hardly got a chance to field our full team. We still have a chance in the Kolkata Premier League. We will try to win our last match against Prayag United and hope that the result of the other match goes in our favour.
MMB: Which match would you select as your best one donning the green and maroon jersey?
Anwar: The derby match against Kingfisher East Bengal this year which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Anwar in action against Kingfisher East Bengal.
MMB: Having played in both Goa and Kolkata, do you find any difference in the atmosphere?
Anwar: Pressure will always be there when you play for a big team which has a big support base. The football craze in Kolkata is much more compared to Goa, but in Goa also a fairly decent crowd comes to see the matches, especially if there is a derby match between Dempo and Churchill.
MMB: Say something about the Kolkata crowd.
Anwar: Kolkata people in general enjoy football. I have got great support from the crowd. I think people here have good understanding of the game also.
MMB: Did you play in the stopper position from the beginning of your career?
Anwar: No, while I was playing for my college team, I used to play as a right back; on a few occasions, I played in the left back position as well, though my right foot is my main kicking foot. After joining Punjab Police, I started playing regularly as a stopper.
MMB: Which is your favourite formation?
Anwar: I have mostly played in 4-4-2 formation, so I am more habituated to playing in this formation, but this year in Federation Cup, we played in 3-5-2.
Anwar celebrates after scoring against Prayag United.
MMB: Before the start of this season, you went to practice in Coventry City. How did you get this chance and please share your experience.
Anwar: The Associate Director of Coventry City Football Club, Mr. Jasbir Singh Sandhu is from my village. He asked me whether I would be interested in training at Coventry City during the preseason, and I grabbed the opportunity and stayed there for 2 weeks.
Initially, I had 2 practice sessions with the Academy Boys in Coventry, after which I had around 7-8 training sessions with the senior team.
The playing turf there was really great. Playing on such grounds improves your performance automatically. Passing the ball, receiving becomes accurate mainly because of the quality of the ground.
The weather too is ideal for good football.
MMB: Tell us about your experience of playing for India.
Anwar: I first got chance to represent the Senior National Team in 2008. We finished runners up in the SAAF Cup held in Maldives, we lost to Maldives in the final. In my 1st tournament for India, Gourmangi Singh was my partner in defense.
After that, we won the AFC Challenger Cup held in Hyderabad and AFC qualifier held in Malaysia. My performance was particularly good in the AFC Challenger Cup after which I became a regular in the Indian team.
In 2009, we beat Syria 5-4 in the final via tie breaker to lift the Nehru Cup. I scored 1 of the goals in the final in tie breaker. In fact, among the McDowell Mohun Bagan players of this year, other than myself, Sunil Chhetri and Surkumar Singh also converted from spot kicks in the final. Subrata Pal saved 3 penalty shots to script the win after the match was locked at 1-1 at the end of the regulation time.
MMB: Who are your favourite stoppers in Indian football?
Anwar: Deepak Mandal, Mahesh Gawli and Gurwinder Singh.
MMB: Which strikers have caused you the most problem?
Anwar: Odafa Okolie and Chidi Edeh.
MMB: Who are your favourite coaches?
Anwar: Bob Houghton, Sukhvinder Singh.
MMB: It was nice talking to you Anwar and best of luck for your future.
Anwar: Thanks a lot.
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