After Abdul Hakku, two more Malayalis are expected to sign contract extensions at Kerala Blasters…
Kerala Blasters‘ Malayali talents Sahal Abdul Samad and Rahul KP are set to extend their current deals at the club, Goal can confirm.
Fan-favourite midfielder Sahal had signed a three-year contract last year that would have ended in 2022 but the new deal will see him tied down for three more years till 2025. Fleet-footed winger Rahul KP impressed in his debut season for the club and has managed to secure an extended deal as well.
Sahal’s popularity rose during the 2018-19 season, at the end of which he bagged the Indian Super League (ISL) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player of the Year awards. He has two assists and a goal in 37 ISL appearances and although the 23-year-old was not as prominent under coach Eelco Schattorie last season, he is widely considered as a hot prospect who can turn out to be one of the best midfielders in the country.
And that makes the extension deal a no-brainer for the Kochi-based club.
Sahal is extremely highly-rated with praises coming in from all quarters including legends like Bhaichung Bhutia, IM Vijayan and more. Sahal has already made his national team debut, with Igor Stimac considering him a key part of his plans for the Blue Tigers.
It must also be noted that several ISL clubs were interested in Sahal through the summer.
20-year old winger Rahul, who played eight games for Blasters after joining from AIFF’s developmental side Indian Arrows, is another one of Blasters’ talented young footballers. He was part of Luis Norton’s India national team that took part in the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and has since done well for Arrows in the I-League.
His pace on the ball has impressed many of his teammates including veteran forward Mohammed Rafi who had told Goal , ” I have never seen a better speedster than him (Rahul KP). He is so fast. If he trains and is used well, he can be a really good player.”
With key local talents tied down for a few more years, Blasters’ attempt at restructuring the squad under the tutelage of sporting director Karolis Skinkys and head coach Kibu Vicuna, is on the right track.
The reduction in the number of foreign players on the field to just four, a change the ISL is likely to adopt from the 2021-22 season, it makes sense for the Blasters to tie down their best Indian talent on longer deals.