When India take on Kuwait in a friendly international in Abu Dhabi on Sunday — as part of their Asian Cup preparations — a more important negotiation will be going on in the same city. The move, if pulled off, may well solve India’s lack of shooting prowess, albeit for the time being.
Indian-origin British striker Michael Chopra has expressed his willingness to represent India in international matches. The 26-year-old is expected to meet coach Bob Houghton and AIFF officials in Dubai on Sunday. “I will be honoured to represent the country of my origin. I feel I can help our country with my experience of playing against top-quality opponents every week,” Chopra said.
Chopra, who played for Sunderland in the Premier League last season, currently plays for Championship side Cardiff City. He has also played alongside the great Alan Shearer during his six-year span at Newcastle United (2000-2006).
Chopra and his representatives (Yogesh Joshee and Kenny Moyes, brother of Everton coach David Moyes) will fly down to Dubai on Saturday night. After meeting Houghton, Chopra will also be meeting the national players before watching the India-Kuwait game. “Michael is a Premiership-quality player and has vast experience which can help India in the Asian Cup. India will be up against the likes of Australia and South Korea, and Michael has played against players from these countries. We have a month’s time and hope this works out,” Joshee, who facilitated Sunil Chetri’s move to Kansas City Wizards, told DNA from London.
But getting Chopra to play for India won’t be easy. He will first have to dribble past a number of red-tape issues pertaining to his eligibility to play for India. According to FIFA statutes, Chopra can play for India as his grandparents were born in India, but the Delhi high court had, in 2010, ruled that only players with Indian passports can represent the country in sporting events. Chopra holds a UK passport.
For the record, Chopra is known for scoring the fastest goal by a substitute in EPL history, when he scored one for Newcastle (vs Sunderland) after only 15 seconds on the field. With an Indian father, he was also the first player of Indian parentage to play and score in the Premier League.