The Kerala-based player has previously plied his trade with Nepali club Manang Marshyangdi.

Gokulam Kerala are all set to sign local Kerala defender Muhammad Asif in a two-year deal, Khel Now understands. The player came into the limelight when he became the first Indian to play for a foreign club in the AFC Cup group stage.

Asif, who primarily plays as a centre-back, plied his trade for Nepali club Manang Marshyangdi in 2019. He was part of the team that featured against former I-League and ISL champions Minerva Punjab and Chennaiyin FC respectively, in the AFC Cup group stage. However, his side failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition.

Last season too, Muhammad Asif played four games for Manang Marshyangdi before coming back to ply his trade in the local Kerala Premier League (KPL) for the Sports Academy of Thirur.

“Asif was on the radar of Gokulam Kerala for quite some time and his fine performances in the KPL were noticed by the club,” a source close to the developments told Khel Now.

The Malabarians did not have a great I-League campaign last time around. Gokulam Kerala went on to win the Durand Cup last year beating Mohun Bagan 2-1 in the final. However, in the I-League, the Fernando Santiago-led side could only earn 20 points in 15 games, before the league was abruptly cancelled due to rising cases of coronavirus in the country.

Gokulam Kerala have already started their preparations for the upcoming I-League season, having brought in young goalkeeper Shayan Roy from TRAU FC, as reported by Khel Now. It remains to be seen how the Malabarians fare in the next campaign, especially after being touted to challenge for the title in the last one.

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