Chennai, April 11 (IANS) Two of the vital cogs in Chennaiyin FCs title-winning wheel, Francisco Fernandes and Mohammed Rafi have renewed their contracts with the Indian Super League (ISL) southern franchise by one year each, it was announced on Wednesday.
Head Coach John Gregory stressed on the importance of retaining two experienced players. “Keeping the core of our side intact from last season is of paramount importance,” he said in a statement.
Francisco, 32, was picked by Chennaiyin in last season’s Player Draft despite undergoing an ankle surgery. The nippy winger from South Goa repaid the faith shown in him by proving to be a versatile and ever-present force in what was a campaign to remember.
He notched 17 appearances and scored one goal last season, but more importantly was efficient in whatever position he was deployed in.
“I can’t thank the coaching staff and club management enough for trusting in me. It is an incredible feeling as a player to have that kind of backing. I hope I was able to show my gratitude with my performances last season. I’m glad I was part of our incredible title success. Next season will be a bigger challenge for us and I’m glad to continue my journey here,” a grateful Francisco said on continuing with Chennaiyin for one more year.
Having reached three of the four ISL finals so far (previously with ATK & Kerala Blasters), Mohammed Rafi is another experienced figure in the Chennaiyin ranks. He contributed vastly to Chennaiyin’s second ISL triumph with both of his two goals last season coming from headers after he’d come off the bench.
His second, an 89th minute equalizer against Jamshedpur FC, helped the side avoid defeat and secure a vital point in the race to the playoffs. His work ethic and fitness was top-notch all season, making him a super-sub in his own right. With bags of experience and proven attacking prowess, Rafi is an invaluable presence in the Chennaiyin dressing room.
“I am very happy to continue with Chennaiyin FC for one more year. The fight and resolve shown by us last season to win the title was amazing. We believed in ourselves throughout and I am happy to have contributed to the success. We need to work hard and be stronger next season,” said the 35-year-old Rafi.