'We play for the people, not the government,' says the only Afghan international footballer in Kerala

Sharif Mukhammad
Sharif Mukhammad

Kozhikode: Sharif Mukhammad, the only Afghan international football player in Kerala right now, has finally broken his silence over the developments in his country.

"We play for the Afghan people, and not for the government," said Sharif Mukhammad in Kozhikode on Friday. "Only football makes people happy," added the midfielder who is training with Gokulam Kerala, the club he captains.

Mukhammad, who is a key member of the Afghan men's football team was in Kerala when the Taliban swept into Kabul in mid-August after the government there collapsed resulting in thousands of natives and foreigners fleeing the country.

Panic had engulfed every Afghan citizen, including its sports personalities. Joining the exodus was the Afghan women's football team while their male counterparts, sprayed across various places in the globe, maintained a stoic silence over the fear of the Taliban.

Mukhammad himself had refrained from speaking to the media and understandably so. Even though the 31-year-old born in Dagestan, Russia, has seldom lived in his home country, he has relatives there.

The defensive midfielder, who played a vital role in helping Gokulam Kerala clinching its maiden I-League title last season is, however, clueless about what the future holds for football in his country.

"We have to see how the situation develops. Everyone on the team is waiting patiently," said Mukhammad.

The other day, Mukhammad was announced as Gokulam's new club captain.

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