Jahangir Shagoo, Sahil Khurshid: 2 Kashmiri footballers bring the SAFF cup home from Nepal

(Ehtisham Iftikhar)

After a wait-and-see approach for the first 45 minutes, the Blue Colts decided to crack the whip in the second session and emerged the SAFF Men’s U19 champions with a vigorous 3-0 triumph over Pakistan at the Dashrath Stadium here on Saturday.

It was India’s eighth youth title in the SAFF championships, a clear testimony to their regional supremacy.

The campaign was also spearheaded by two Kashmiri footballers, Jahangir Shagoo and Sahil Khurshid. Both shined in India’s win against Bangladesh in the championship. Later, in the semi final against the host Nepal, Khurshid had put India ahead in the 26th minute.
Before that, the remarkable achievement of Jahangir Shagoo needs special mention. A young footballer from the Khoja Bagh area of Baramulla town in north Kashmir, Jahangir has secured a coveted spot on the Indian under-19 football team participating in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U-19 Championship.

Jahangir’s remarkable journey is a testament to dedication, passion, and the unwavering support of his mentors, family, and community.

The SAFF U-19 Championship, an international football competition for men’s under-19 national teams, kicked off from September 21 to September 30, 2023, in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Jahangir Shagoo’s inclusion in the Indian under-19 squad marks a historic moment as he becomes the first footballer from north Kashmir to achieve this feat, making his community and region immensely proud.

Jehangir’s journey into the world of football began at the tender age of 12 when he first discovered his passion for the sport. Inspired by the matches he witnessed in his locality, he joined the Real Soccer Football Academy (RSFA), where he received his initial training under the guidance of his mentor, Haroon Rashid.

Reflecting on his early days, Jahangir shared, “He (Haroon Rashid) showed me the basics of football and more than that, he showed me how to be more focused in my life.” His commitment and talent soon caught the attention of the State Football Academy (SFA), where he continued his training under Haroon Rashid’s leadership.
With time, Jahangir’s skills continued to develop, and he was subsequently selected to represent the SFA Srinagar. Under the guidance of coach Mohammad Ali, Jahangir honed his footballing abilities and learned valuable life lessons that went beyond the pitch.

Jehangir’s journey took another significant step when he participated in the U-13 I-League for the State Football Academy Jammu & Kashmir during the 2018-19 season. This experience provided him with exposure and valuable experience, setting the stage for his semi-professional career within the SFA, where coaches like Sajid Yousuf Dar guided him towards excellence.

In 2020, Jahangir participated in trials for the India U-16 national men’s team, a remarkable achievement at just 15 years of age. After successfully making the cut, he joined the India U-16 squad and trained in Odisha. “Because of Almighty Allah, I was shortlisted for the India U-16 squad,” Jehangir said.

Jahangir’s dedication and talent continued to shine, leading to his subsequent selections in the India Under-17 and, most recently, the India Under-19 national teams.
“Under the guidance of my current coach, Shuvenda Panda, I am now representing my country in the SAFF U-19 Men’s Championship in Nepal,” he had said before departing for Nepal.

He described the championship as his most memorable international experience to date. “This is my most memorable international competition, and I believe that it will assist me with arriving at my objective in future,” Jahangir said.

Jahangir aspires to represent India at the senior national level and play in the Indian Super League (ISL). “I will work as hard as possible to see my little glimpse of heaven. My gratitude to Shuvenda Panda and my entire supporting staff here at the national team,” he added.

Jahangir also expressed his gratitude towards the All India Football Federation (AIFF), the Odisha government for their support, and the Jammu & Kashmir Sports Council for nurturing his talent.

He also acknowledged the unwavering support of individuals like Muzammil Mahmood, Salman Mir, and Burhan Amin in his football journey.

However, Jahangir reserves a special place of gratitude for his family, who stood by him through thick and thin. “I am thankful to my father and mother,” he expressed with heartfelt appreciation.

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