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England World Cup run inspiring, says Azeem Amir | Ashvir Singh Johal joins Kolo Toure at Wigan | Zidan Miah ‘should play for Bangladesh’

England Blind Football international Azeem Amir says he is taking inspiration from the Three Lions’ run in Qatar ahead of next summer’s World Blind Games on home soil.

Gareth Southgate’s side have dazzled during this World Cup and face a mouthwatering quarter-final tie against reigning champions France on Saturday after easing to an impressive 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16.

Speaking at London’s first Blind and Visually Impaired Football Festival, held in association with Bloomsbury Football and British Blind Sport, Amir said he believes England can bring it home and make it a festive season to remember.

“You’ve got to be optimistic [about England’s chances],” Amir told Sky Sports News.

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Gary Neville thinks that England’s World Cup quarter-final clash against France is an ‘once in a lifetime’ game for Gareth Southgate’s side.

“I think we’ve got as much chance as everyone else. I’m optimistic as a fan and as a player.

“But I think it would be amazing. What a Christmas and what a festive period it will be if they bring it home!”

Birmingham hosts the sixth edition of the World Blind Games in August 2023, with the International Blind Sports Federation showpiece coming to Britain for the very first time.

Amir, who made his debut as an England B1 footballer back in 2018, added: “Honestly, there is no better feeling [than playing tournament football for your country].

“With our own World Games coming up in 2023 – that’s something you can only dream about, representing your country and having your family and friends watching you.

“Myself, I’m doing everything I possibly can with my local base of coaches and my support network to put things in place to give myself the best opportunity to not only be in the squad, but to directly influence us – fingers crossed – to finish on the podium in a medal spot.”

Singh Johal set for EFL touchline debut

Trailblazing Sikh-Punjabi football coach Ashvir Singh Johal will make his touchline debut at The Den this weekend when Wigan travel to Millwall in the Sky Bet Championship on Saturday.

Singh Johal last week joined Wigan boss Kolo Toure’s backroom team, arriving at the DW Stadium as a first-team coach, with former Crawley Town and Arsenal U23s boss Kevin Betsy also coming in as part of Toure’s backroom staff.

Toure met Singh Johal at Leicester where the Ivorian served as first-team coach to Brendan Rodgers. Singh Johal spent around a decade at Leicester, initially joining as a ground staff volunteer before working his way all the way up to U18s assistant manager.

Singh Johal, 27, is a former player, coach and manager of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Leicester (GNG Leicester), whose first team play at Step 5 of the Non-League System.

GNG Leicester's Ashvir Singh Johal (second from left) - West Ham's Rashid Abba (far right)
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Ashvir Singh Johal (second from left) led GNG Leicester to glory in the KFF tournament last summer. His former mentor, Rashid Abba, is now at West Ham (far right)

Former Leicester City academy coach Rashid Abba, who coached Singh Johal when he was a toddler, told Sky Sports News: “I’m so pleased to see Ashvir make the breakthrough – especially because he is a Leicester lad, who has come through and remained involved at GNG Leicester, a decorated and historic club rooted in the South Asian community.

“He’s a very talented up-and-coming coach and a wonderful role model. His appointment at Wigan is great news, and offers genuine hope to coaches from diverse ethnic backgrounds, who aspire towards a career in the game.”

‘Zidan should play for Bangladesh’

Zidan Miah trains at Welling United
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Zidan Miah has returned to light training at Welling United ahead of a return to Spain

Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to the UK, Saida Muna Tasneem, has told Sky Sports News she hopes to see Rayo Vallecano youngster Zidan Miah one day represent Bangladesh.

South Londoner Zidan turned down an offer from Dubai-based Al Nasr to join Madrid-based Rayo Vallecano last year. The midfielder has begun light training at Welling United after recovering from a ruptured Achilles, and is expected to return to Spain in the coming weeks.

Zidan, who played youth football at MLS club FC Dallas, picked up the Sports Personality of the Year accolade at the British Bangladeshi Fashion and Lifestyle Awards last weekend.

“I want to congratulate Zidan from the bottom of my heart,” said Tasneem.

“Bangladeshi youth diaspora and our British-Bangladeshi communities are really coming up, and I’m really grateful to the British Bangladeshi Fashion Council (awards organisers) for recognising this fine young man, who has already accomplished so much.

(L-R) Sky Sports' Dev Trehan, High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem, Rayo Vallecano's Zidan Miah
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High Commissioner for Bangladesh to the UK Saida Muna Tasneem spoke to Sky Sports News about Zidan Miah


“We want to showcase him and his journey with Rayo Vallecano, who are a big club in Spain, and he makes us all very proud. He helps send out the message that if I can do it, you can do it.

“The Bangladesh national team were unable to make it to the World Cup this year, but I hope he plays for Bangladesh one day and helps take us there.

“He can be such a great role model for people from our diaspora, we look forward to inviting both of you to the High Commission to come and say a few words. We want to be inspired by you.”

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

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