All eyes on goal
Christy Davis and Muhammed Nemil stood out for their performances at the Durand Cup finals held in Goa last Sunday
It was a renaissance of sorts for football in Kerala when Gokulam Kerala FC lifted the iconic Durand Cup back in 2019. While Gokulam failed to defend the title this year and Kerala Blasters put up a poor fight, two young Malayali footballers ensured that the state had something to boast about at Asia’s oldest football tournament.
Christy Davis (22) and Muhammed Nemil Vailiyattil (19) played a crucial role in Sunday’s final match where Indian Super League side FC Goa beat I-League outfit Mohammedan Sporting. Looking at their career trajectories, the Kerala lads are making rapid strides. In time, they could join the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad, Ashique Kuruniyan and Emil Benny as the rising stars from the state.
Winning the Durand Cup is a good first step for the duo, and their next target is to try and enter the ISL squad of FC Goa. “It was my first time playing with our foreign members. It taught me so many things. Winning the Cup was the icing on the cake,” says Christy.
The midfielder was scouted by FC Goa after he put in great performances at the GOAL tournament organised by TNIE in 2019. He hasn’t looked back since then. “I have been with the team for a while now and I feel it is time to get into the first-team squad for the upcoming ISL. I am confident that I will get an opportunity if I continue to work hard. Playing at the Durand Cup was massive and it will help me immensely,” he said.
As for Nemil, the attacking midfielder first caught the spotlight during his stint with RF Young Champs. After getting into FC Goa, he went out on loan to Spain with UDA Gramenet U-19. Now back at FC Goa, he hopes to make the exposure and opportunities count.
“I have come a long way after starting out at my local team in Kerala. I still have a lot to learn, but winning such a big tournament and being able to play with some top players at this age has been an immense experience,” said Nemil.
Given the performances they are putting in, these two talented Malayali footballers could be regular faces in Indian football in the years to come. “For us, it is about not getting carried away — taking one step at a time and just working hard. The results will come. We have a long way to go,” said Christy.