Will it be Dod-sal?

City football team appears set to fill void left by Mahindra

One afternoon last September, on a slow news day, Mikael Silvestre started trending on Twitter in India. What's the big deal, one would say; after all, it takes just one moment of brilliance or an act of stupidity to go viral on social networking sites.

Well, here's the reason why it was such a big deal. In an interview to a Dubai-based website, the former France, Manchester United and Arsenal defender had revealed his next destination: "I spoke with (former Al Wasl and UAE striker) Mohammad Omar, the chief executive at Dodsal, and he has offered me a place in the squad."

Dodsal who? And then, it started sinking in. The team Silvestre was talking about was none other than the one based in Mumbai, owned by Rajen Kilachand, who is believed to be close to the owner of Manchester City, Sheikh Mansoor. Suddenly, the news was all over the web. So much so that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was intrigued and sought details about the club from Silvestre.

Omar played down the speculation during his visit to Mumbai recently and with the international transfer window opening on January 1, it is unlikely the Silvestre deal will materialise.

But what it has done is inject fresh optimism in the city's dying football circuit. Mahindra United's decision to shut shop in 2010 changed the football landscape of the city. With no team to challenge the big guns in I-League, the interest dipped.

No wonder then that Dodsal's entry has been met with a lot of enthusiasm. There's renewed hope that they might go on and achieve something big, thus reviving football in Mumbai.

"Mumbai needs a big club, doesn't it?" Omar said recently. "I have spoken to Silvestre but we're in talks with a few other players as well. We don't have the budget to buy five-star players straight away. We will look at the viable options during the January transfer window," he had said.

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