Kerala Blasters FC has announced the contract extensions with three upcoming young native talents in Nihal Sudheesh (21), Muhammad Saheef (20), Mohammed Azhar (20) & Mohammed Aimen (20) until 2026.
These players with their own particular set of expertise will be manning different halves of the pitch, after having spent time within the Kerala Blasters development system honing their skills and getting game time against the best players within their age bracket from around the country, in various development tournaments.
It is through steady and consistent performances through that period, in tournaments like Durand Cup and RF Development League especially over the last season, that these players have managed to make their ways into the Kerala Blasters senior squad.
Kerala Blasters have extended the contracts of their young guns – Nihal, Saheef, Aimen and Azhar till 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣6️⃣🟡🔵#ISL #KBFC #KeralaBlasters #LetsFootball #HalfwayFootball pic.twitter.com/gEICpnrvQ5— Halfway Football (@HalfwayFootball) May 12, 2023
The Kochi native, after being an integral part of the Kerala Blasters youth sides, made his senior team appearance during last year’s Hero ISL.
Nihal’s love and connection with Kerala Blasters goes beyond his time joining the youth development program with KBFC. In the 2015-16 Hero ISL season, Nihal was a ball boy at the sidelines of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi from where he witnessed all the action from close quarters, igniting a passion for football within him that has driven his growth ever since.
After a period of time within KBFC’s youth system, Nihal represented the KBFC Reserves team in the 2019-20 I-League 2nd division, prior to pursuing a job with the Indian Navy.
However, Nihal would soon quit his job at the Navy to follow his passion for football with a complete focus on KBFC. In 2022 he would represent the club’s reserve team at the Reliance Foundation Development League and Next Gen Cup in the UK. His impressive performances earned him a senior team call-up during pre-season and he eventually cemented a place in the squad.
In his first year with the senior team, Nihal made an encouraging 6 appearances in the Hero ISL and Super Cup showcasing a great turn of pace, mentality, and willingness to learn and improve.
Commenting on the extension, Karolis Skinkys, Kerala Blasters Sporting Director, said:
“Nihal Sudeesh’s energy, creativity, and speed make him an ideal winger, ticking all the right boxes in terms of skill and temperament. He has been someone who has grown through our system, so it was very heartening to see him make constant progress as a player during last year’s ISL. I am very pleased that Nihal agreed to sign a contract extension, committing his future with the club till 2026. I wish Nihal all the very best and hope he would cement himself within the core of the KBFC squad, during the upcoming time period.”
Aimen & Azhar
Mohammed Aiman and Mohammed Azhar are identical twins but their on-field game remains vastly different, Aiman being a Left Winger is known to launch attacks from the wings, feeding the ball to the strikers in attacking positions or even creating goal scoring chances himself, whereas Azhar being a central midfielder is more proficient in moving the ball forward and creating various plays across the midfield.
Compared to Azhar & Aiman, Muhammed Saheef is a relatively new entrant within the Kerala Blasters set-up, however his performances with the developmental games and overall talent to man the backend of the formation makes him a player with plenty of promise. He even made his senior team debut in the recently concluded Super Cup, 2023 in Kozhikode.
Commenting on these extensions, Karolis Skinkys, Kerala Blasters Sporting Director, said:
”Extremely happy to see three young upcoming players, from our Kerala Blasters Youth system rising through the ranks and making a place within the nucleus of the senior team, all these players bring along their own specific skill sets and raw talent which will add more depth and variety to our main squad. I wish them nothing but success and growth as players in this upcoming phase of their careers.”