In what has been a record Indian football transfer, Musli Power Churchill Brothers has signed two of the biggest stars in Indian football. Mohammed Rafi along with his Mahindra United teammate Steven Dias has signed a lucrative 16-months contract with the Goan giants.
The Churchill Brothers management is believed to have had negotiations with both the players at Goa last day as the Mahindra United were in town to face Salgaocar SC in the 25th round of the I-League 2009-10. It is also rumored that Churchill are interested in another Kerala player, NP Pradeep and a deal may be finalized within a week.
Mohammed Rafi from Kasargod is the best Indian striker in the current I-League scoring 15 goals this season for the Mumbai outfit. The striker was rewarded for his fine form after being called up for the national team camp last October and he is in coach Bob Houghton’s plans for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 at Qatar.
However, the national team players will not be available for the clubs from July till the the Asian Cup as a part of the Goal 2011 Project. So, the contract period is to start after the Asian Cup in 2011-12 season in the month of February. Churchill’s Odafe Okolie is the highest paid footballer in India earning around 1.5 crores a year.
Rafi joined Mahindra from SBT five years ago with Pradeep. He has been the top scorer in the Mumbai League for 2 seasons and was named the best player of the league once. The player from Trikaripur has been at the paradigm of form this season. Rafi began receiving contract offers from most of the top clubs like Kingfisher East Bengal, McDowells Mohun Bagan and Dempo SC after the news spread that Mahindra were pulling out of competitive football from next season.
Talking to footballkerala.com, Rafi expressed his joy for joining the former champions, but couldn’t hide his despair in leaving his current club. “It is great joy to sign for such a great team like Churchill Brothers; it would be fantastic to play for them,” the Indian International said. “We at Mahindra United kept a good relationship with each other and its very sad that the management decided to disband the team,” Rafi said.
But the striker is now focused on the national team duty and the AFC Asian Cup 2011 were he might spearhead the Indian attack. Rafi said: “We must do something at Qatar. I am proud to wear India colors and will try my level best to keep the Indian flag fly high.”
Other Mahindra United players are also offered contracts by several top clubs. Mahindra United captain Krishnan Nair Ajayan and Sushanth Mathew are in the East Bengal radar. The officials of the team has already been in contact with the players. Another Kerala player Aseem K is in talks with Dempo SC, Salgaocar SC, Chirag United and Mumbai FC.
Adwaidh R writes for Footballkerala.com