Santosh Trophy great platform for youngsters: Mohammed Rafi
Kochi, Mar 1 : The fact that Santosh Trophy is full of youngsters is a blessing in disguise, according to former India striker Mohammed Rafi.
"It's true that the big names are missing in the Santosh Trophy nowadays. But I look at things from a different perspective. There are so many young footballers who aspire to play for India someday, plying their trade in the tournament. Look at our team (Maharashtra). Except me and (NP) Pradeep, all are youngsters and their talent is there to be seen. People point out that the partnership up front between the two of us (he and Pradeep) is the main reason behind Maharashtra's success but that's not entirely true," said the Dodsal FC forward who is playing his first season for Maharashtra in the National Championships.
Rafi, who was the Indian top goalscorer in the 2009-10 season of the I-League for now defunct Mahindra United, added that the secret behind his successful partnership up front with another former India International NP Pradeep lies in the long-term on-pitch association between the two.
"We have been playing together for nine years now. For Mohammedan Sporting, Mahindra United and now for Dodsal. So the camaraderie on the pitch is because of that. We know eachother very well in footballing terms that is and that's why we gel brilliantly."
Though Maharashtra bowed out of the semi-finals, losing 1-2 to hosts Kerala in extra time Rafi feels that the better team won though regretting his early exit from the tie owing to injury.
"Kerala played good football. So they won. I rue my early exit. I got injured unfortunately. This is my first season for Maharashtra. And we were doing really well."