Oh my, Omar!

Omar Jaleel has won the India Live Qualifier Event held in Mumbai and become the fifth gamer to secure a place at the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009 Grand Final.

Four pre-qualification events took place over the last few weeks in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai, with over 500 participants taking part in total.  Each winner and runner-up from the four preliminary events earned a place in the final FIWC 09 India Live Qualification Event.

17-year-old Omar, who qualified for the India final at the last possible moment by winning the Mumbai pre-qualifier event, beat Zahim Vishnu from Bangalore in an exciting final that showcased some incredible virtual football.

It is hard to imagine that Jaleel has only been playing EA SPORTS™ FIFA 09 on PlayStation®3 for a month!  The FIFA EA Sports™ and FIWC newcomer was just as cool and consistent in the Sunday finals as he had been during pre-qualification. Jaleel did not seem the least bit phased by the intense pressure that is typically felt by gamers in the final stages of a live qualifier.

David beats Goliath
Over 250 players turned up at The National College to compete in Saturday's pre-qualifier and try to earn a place at Sunday's event.

A few familiar faces were amongst the many eager finalists. Most notably, Sachith Reddy was in attendance. The winner of India's FIWC 08 tournament and last year's Indian representative at the Grand Final was eager to retain his India title and receive another crack at the FIWC 09 championship.

Although Sachith just scraped into the finals by finishing runner-up at the Bangalore pre-qualifier, he seemed confident that his experience at the FIWC 08 Grand Final would serve him well in defending his Indian title. In a surprise upset, Sachith was knocked out in the semi-finals by the calm and calculated Omar.

After tasting victory in the final, Omar was asked what he thought his chances were at winning the Grand Final. "I know it is going to be tough, but I am going to try my best to win", he said.

Mumbai bursting with energy
The atmosphere at the Live Qualifier in Mumbai was brimming with positive energy and everyone enjoyed a fun-filled weekend of virtual football fun.

Spectators and players spent their time engaging in a number of activities other than FIFA EA Sports™ 09. Live football freestylers wowed the crowd, and a football challenge and kick and score test showed off everyone's skills.

The next FIWC 09 Live Qualifier Event is not until the New Year but there is no Christmas break for the players competing in the online FIWC 09 tournament. Online players will continue to battle it out in their attempt to claim one of 13 prized spots and a trip to the Grand Final.