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South Asians in Football Weekly: Otis Khan and Leicester's Arjan Raikhy win on debut as Yan Dhanda and Brandon Khela make history

Arjan Raikhy, Bivesh Gurung, Otis Khan, Brandon Khela, Safia Middleton-Patel, Yan Dhanda, Easah Suliman and Kira Rai have all enjoyed an excellent week in the Beautiful Game; our resident expert Dev Trehan brings you all the details in the latest edition of South Asians in Football Weekly

Arjan Raikhy (l) Otis Khan (R)
Image: Arjan Raikhy (L) and Otis Khan (R) were both victorious as they made their debuts at the weekend

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

Arjan Raikhy made a long-awaited debut for Leicester City in the Foxes' 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round win against Birmingham City.

Sky Sports News exclusively revealed last summer that FA Youth Cup-winner Raikhy was on the verge of signing for Leicester as a free agent after leaving Aston Villa.

The central midfielder came on as a second-half substitute for one of Leicester's goalscorers, Yunus Akgun, in the victory at the King Power Stadium.

Jamie Vardy and Dennis Praet were the other goalscorers as Leicester set up an away trip to Premier League Bournemouth in the fifth round.

Bivesh Gurung was involved in one of the weekend's feature games as Maidstone United produced one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of all time to reach the fifth round with a 2-1 victory at Portman Road to stun Championship highflyers Ipswich Town.

The National League South club, who sit 98 places below Ipswich, are the first side outside of the top five tiers to progress this far in the competition since Blyth Spartans in 1978, having entered in the second qualifying round.

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Sam Corne celebrates scoring Maidstone's second goal
Image: Bivesh Gurung (far right) celebrates Sam Corne's decisive goal against Ipswich Town

Gurung came on just after the hour mark, three minutes before Sam Corne rifled home a famous winner for the non-League club to cap a brilliant counter-attacking move.

Fellow Nepali Kiban Rai was also in FA Cup action at this weekend, featuring as a 78th-minute substitute in Newport County's 4-2 loss to Manchester United at Rodney Parade.

Brandon Khela got his first taste of top-division football as he made his first league start in Ross County's historic Scottish Premiership clash with Celtic.

Yan Dhanda captained the Staggies for the trip to 'Paradise' as Ross County became the first Premiership side in SPFL history to field two British South Asians in their starting line-up.

Khela, Loick Ayina, Teddy Jenks and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson all made their Ross County debuts, but it was a far from ideal start, with Alistair Johnston opening the scoring for the 53-time Scottish champions in the first minute.

But County performed admirably for the remainder of the encounter at Celtic Park.

Khela produced some deft touches in just over an hour on the pitch, with talisman Dhanda the most potent attacking threat for the visitors, particularly from set-pieces, as Celtic were restricted to a 1-0 win.

Dhanda has since agreed a pre-contract at Hearts, which will, as it stands, see him move to Tynecastle Park when his Ross County contract expires in the summer.

Ex-Manchester United youngster Otis Khan got off to a winning start at his new club as Hartlepool United beat York City.

Former England striker Kevin Phillips moved quickly to sign Khan from Grimsby Town last week, and the Pakistan international played 69 minutes on debut as Hartlepool ran out 2-1 winners.

In a social media post after the game, Khan wrote: "Buzzing with the win today!

"Thoroughly deserved three points, and made up to have made my Hartlepool United debut.

"Thanks for all the incredible support and messages."

Khan's international team-mate Easah Suliman continued his blossoming start to life in Azerbaijan with another goal for Sumqayit.

Suliman scored with a header at the end of the first half in a 1-1 draw for the Baku-based side away at Araz Naxcivan.

Kira Rai looked back to her best with another barnstorming performance for Derby County Women as they eased into the FAWNL Plate semi-finals.

Rai got an assist on her return from a 10-week injury lay-off last weekend, and she was a thorn in the side of the Sutton Coldfield Town defence in a 5-0 win for the Ewes, in a game which saw Amy Sims help herself to a hat-trick.

Sikh-Punjabi attacker Rai won a penalty for her side when she was bundled over in the area by the same defender she had nutmegged on the left flank moments earlier.

Rai then produced a moment of magic to get on the scoresheet, picking the ball up on the left side of the area, before dragging it onto her left foot with her studs and quickly unleashing an unstoppable shot across Town's goalkeeper into the bottom corner.

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Kira Rai featured in a first-of-its-kind timeline and display documenting the history of South Asian heritage female players. The Derby County star hopes it can help improve diversity in the women's game and inspire more girls who look like her

Derby County are now just 90 minutes away from the final and have been handed an away tie at Exeter City.

Asmita Ale was named as an unused substitute for Leicester City's 1-0 WSL win away at Everton after completing a loan move to the club from fellow WSL side Tottenham earlier last week.

Arjan Raikhy Dev Trehan South Asians in Football Team of the Season
Image: Arjan Raikhy joined Sky Sports News' Dev Trehan at last year's launch of the groundbreaking South Asians in Football Team of the Season

Safia Middleton-Patel, who featured in the 2022-23 South Asians in Football Team of the Season, kept her first Watford clean sheet as the Golden Girls earned a 2-0 victory away at Durham to record their first win of 2024.

The Manchester United stopper joined Championship side Watford on a dual registration basis earlier this month.

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