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South Asians in Football Weekly: Kayani’s Pakistan World Cup ‘dream’

The latest edition of South Asians in Football Weekly is out after another good week for the community in the Beautiful Game…

Whitehawk forward Imran Kayani signed off for international duty in style by scoring the first hat-trick of his senior career.

Kayani has been in blistering form recently and opened the scoring in the third minute against Kingstonian, before netting twice in the second half in an impressive 4-1 away win for the Hawks.

The forward opened up exclusively to Sky Sports News last year about his desire to play for Pakistan, with the former England schoolboys’ international going on to play for the Shaheens in their first-ever match in World Cup second round qualifying, against Saudi Arabia in November.

Pakistan continue their qualifying adventure with a home clash against Jordan on Thursday, with Kayani dreaming of making more history with the country.

“It’s the first time we have reached the second round of World Cup qualifying in 75 years, so we’re making history as a group,” he told Sky Sports News.

Pakistan international Imran Kayani opens up to Sky Sports News' Dev Trehan
Image: Pakistan international Imran Kayani opens up to Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan

“But we don’t want to stop there. We’ve got ambitions, and my dream is to get Pakistan to a World Cup.

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“It’s a really exciting time for Pakistan and I want to be a part of it. I’m very confident in my ability and I’m just looking forward to showcasing that at international level.

“As a kid, playing in competitions like the World Cup is a dream and I just want to keep working hard and hopefully make a name for Pakistan.”

Sri Lanka international Dillon De Silva also headed off for international duty in good spirits after scoring his first goal for Wealdstone in just his second start since joining the club after leaving Torquay United.

De Silva scored Wealdstone’s opener in a 2-1 National League win against Fylde with a superbly taken effort, weaving into the area before curling past goalkeeper Theo Richardson.

Sri Lanka are among the hosts for the inaugural FIFA Series where they will come up against Papua New Guinea and Bhutan.

Carter: We have high hopes for Riya

Teenager Riya Mannu is in contention to feature in Birmingham City’s Barclay’s Women’s Championship clash at Reading on Wednesday night.

The 17-year-old forward made her first appearance on Birmingham City’s first-team bench in Sunday’s goalless draw with Blackburn Rovers.

Hanaah ward Trehan Rai Singh Savage
Image: Coach Kiran Singh Savage and Derby County legends Hannah Ward and Kira Rai joined Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan ahead of a game to lend support to Birmingham City starlet Riya Mannu who was 15 at the time

Speaking to Blues TV, Birmingham City head coach and former Blues midfielder Darren Carter was full of praise for Mannu, describing her attitude as “refreshing”.

“Riya has been fantastic and has deserved her chance to come up and train with us,” Carter said.

“She has had a strong season with Liam [Parkes, U21s head coach] and the U21s. Riya has always been someone that we’ve kept an eye on and she’s got stronger and stronger.

“Her attitude for a young player is refreshing, she’s come into our environment and asks questions. She’s eager to learn and eager to get better.

Dev Trehan Riya Sushma Wolves South Asian Heritage Month
Image: Riya Mannu’s mum chats on stage with Sky Sports News’ Dev Trehan at a South Asian Heritage Month event hosted by Wolves at Molineux last year

“She’s earned her chance and being with us a few weeks now, you can see her getting to our level and speed of play.

“We have high hopes for Riya.”

Mannu has been in scintillating form for the U21s, bagging 11 goals so far this term, including well-taken strikes against both Arsenal and Manchester United.

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But it was her goal against Leicester City that left a lasting impression on Sky Sports pundit and ex-Birmingham City striker Clinton Morrison.

“It was a great finish,” Morrison told Sky Sports News.

“She watched it on to her [left] foot, her weaker foot, and she did ever so well with the technique to guide it into the back of the net.

“That was natural and instinctive. It was a natural finish, a great finish – an unbelievable finish. I’d have probably celebrated a little bit more, because I never scored a spectacular goal like that!”

Midfielder and South Asians in Football Leadership scholarship recipient Millie Chandarana, started against Birmingham as Rovers earned a hard-fought draw at St Andrew’s.

The result moves Rovers on to 23 points – equalling their highest-ever points tally in a Championship season – with five matches still left to play.

Elsewhere, Hamza Choudhury, who joined Chandarana in last year’s first-of-its-kind South Asians in Football Team of the Season, captained Leicester City in their 4-2 FA Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

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