‘Head Master’ Mohammed Rafi marks a return to Kerala Blasters
Kerala Blasters FC have signed up veteran striker Mohammed Rafi on a one-year deal to strengthen their squad heading into Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. The 37-year-old has previously represented the Blasters back in the 2015 and 2016 seasons of Hero ISL.
The Kerala-born player began his career with SBT and after representing the likes of Churchill Brothers and Mumbai FC, was drafted into the ATK squad for the inaugural season of Hero ISL back in 2014. He played 10 matches for the Kolkata-based side en route helping them to the title that season. The following season he was snapped up by Kerala Blasters, where he stayed for two seasons before joining Chennaiyin. He played 22 matches for Kerala over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, scoring six goals. The highlight of his time there was the goal in the 2016 final against his former side ATK in a match which Kerala eventually lost in penalties. Known for his aerial prowess in the opposition penalty box, Rafi also earned the moniker of ‘Head Master’ amongst fans.
In Chennaiyin's books during the 2017-18 campaign, Rafi was mostly utilized as an impact sub and played his part in helping his new team win the title. He scored twice in the 273 minutes he was on the pitch during Hero ISL 2017-18. He, however, managed just 21 minutes of game time for Chennaiyin last season.
Rafi has also played for India, representing the Blue Tigers on seven occasions.
Under new head coach Eelco Schattorie, Kerala Blasters are building a strong squad for the upcoming season and the addition of an experienced campaigner like Rafi, who is familiar with the responsibility it requires to represent the Blasters' badge, will be a huge boon for the side.
“I'm extremely happy to be joining Kerala Blasters after two years. It is an honour to represent the home team along with a talented squad for the 2019-20 season of the Hero ISL. The only objective now is to bring the Hero ISL cup home and for the same I will give in my 100 percent on and off the pitch. I am also eagerly looking forward to witness the ever-supportive and loud crowd make our home stadium a yellow fortress once again,” Rafi said after completing the formalities.
“Rafi is a proven goal scorer and one among the few number nine strikers of India. He is one of the best headers in the country with an excellent eye for a goal and his first touch inside the box is always brilliant. His performance in 2016 with Kerala Blasters was top notch and we hope to see him in his best form in the upcoming season of the Hero ISL,” stated Ishfaq Ahmed, Assistant Coach, Kerala Blasters.