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Easah Suliman: Ex-England youth captain set for Pakistan debut against India at South Asian Football Federation Championship

Aston Villa academy graduate and former England U20 captain Easah Suliman receives international clearance to represent Pakistan national team; Suliman, who scored in the final in England's U19s Euros triumph in 2017, is now in line to make his Pakistan debut against India in Bengaluru

easah suliman of England during the UEFA European Under-19 Championship Final between England and Portugal on July 15, 2017 in Gori, Georgia...Levan Verdzeuli
Image: Easah Suliman celebrates scoring against Portugal in the U19 Euros final in Georgia in 2017

Former England U20 captain Easah Suliman is set to make his international debut for Pakistan against India at next month’s South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship.

The Vitoria defender looks set to been handed his first international call-up by head coach Shahzad Anwar for the upcoming eight-team tournament after receiving international clearance from FIFA to allow him to represent Pakistan.

Pakistan will take on host nation India in an eagerly-anticipated tournament opener in Bengaluru, before playing against Kuwait and Nepal. Pakistan last played India in 2018, losing 3-1.

Birmingham-born Suliman came through the ranks at Aston Villa, turning professional at the club on his 17th birthday before taking in loan spells at Grimsby, Cheltenham Town and Dutch side Emmen.

Suliman made his Villa debut under former boss Steve Bruce in a League Cup tie against Wigan, before making eventually making the switch to Portuguese top-flight outfit Vitoria for an undisclosed fee in 2020.

The 25-year-old central defender is currently on a season-long loan at Vilafranquense and has started the last 12 matches for the team.

Suliman has earned international recognition at youth level throughout age groups with England, most recently featuring for the nation at U20 level.

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The defender is the first British-Pakistani to captain an England side and played every minute of England's U17 World Cup campaign in Chile 2015.

Mason Mount in action for England versus USA
Image: Mason Mount was named Player of the Tournament at the U19 Euros

Two years later, Suliman helped England become European U19 champions, scoring a header in a 2-1 win against Portugal in the final.

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Tottenham's Ryan Sessegnon were also part of that England U19 team, with Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount - who has been linked with an exit from Stamford Bridge this summer - named as the Player of the Tournament.

England's Easah Suliman at Heathrow Airport, London.
Image: Suliman arrives at London Heathrow with the U19 Euros trophy

Speaking just after becoming a European U19 champion, Suliman said: "To bring the trophy home is surreal. I still can't believe it.

"The moment the referee's whistle went up to his mouth I knew we had done it.

"It means a lot to me. I am overwhelmed by the achievement."

Pakistan are returning to the SAFF Championship after missing the last tournament in 2021 due to a FIFA suspension for third-party interference.

The country's women's team returned to the international arena at last year's Women's SAFF Championship in Nepal.

Doncaster Rovers Belles attacker Nadia Khan, who Sky Sports News revealed had received international clearance just in time to fly to Kathmandu for the tournament, made history in Pakistan's final group game against Mauritius, becoming the first woman to score four goals in an international match for the nation.

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