Despite its small size, the scattering of islands that make of Maldives has managed to produce some relatively good footballers. I say relative because their success has mainly come at a regional level. Winning the 2008 South Asian championship remains arguably their greatest moment in the sport. In a true 'David v Goliath' contest, Maldives ( pop. 340,000) beat India (pop. 1.2billion, and the most successful South Asian national team) 1-0 to take their first and only senior silverware. It is reported that 11,500 Maldives supporters made the journey to Sri Lanka for that final (the tournament was actually co-hosted by Maldives and Sri Lanka). Since then, finishing third in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup must be considered another high point.
The shirt itself is a standard Adidas template, with the crest likely added at a local level. But the crest here is important, and a good example of small details that are important to football shirt collectors. Looking closely at the crest on this shirt, you can see it is a felt-like material, with a slight 3D effect with the red and green popping out from the white background. In the past few years, a number of versions of this shirt have appeared online with heat-pressed vinyl crests on them. From a distance, they look the same. But those with vinyl are fakes. The more that teams use big brand templates, with heat pressed crests, the more this happens as the makers of fakes can cheaply and easily produce their own shirts.
Back to the football, Ali Ashfaq is one of those good footballers mentioned earlier. Though he has spent most of his early career in his home country, he now has an astonishing scoring record in the Malaysian top division, Asian club competitions and international level, where he has scored 52 goals in 78 games for Maldives.