PL Next Gen Cup: Battle for best of the rest on the penultimate day
Teams will take on their counterparts from the other group on the fourth day of Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup in Navi Mumbai on Thursday. The group stage fixtures rounded off on Tuesday with Stellenbosch FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC finishing at the top of Group A and Group B respectively.
West Ham United FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC follow Stellenbosch in Group A whereas Everton FC, Reliance Foundation Young Champs and Sudeva Delhi have finished at the second, third and fourth spots respectively in Group B. Accordingly, six teams will play their last game in this season of the tournament on with a vision to finish off their campaign on a positive note tomorrow.
Bengaluru FC vs Sudeva Delhi FC – 4 pm
The finalists of the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) will meet again as the Blues come into this match on the back of a goalless draw against ATK Mohun Bagan on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Sudeva faced a 2-0 defeat to a relentless Wolverhampton Wanderers FC unit yesterday. Both the teams will be eager to secure their first win of the tournament. They must be well acquainted with each other’s playing style given their recent faceoff in the RFDL and hence the game promises to be an exciting encounter between two very promising youth teams of the country.
“If we look at the four Indian teams that have reached over here, they are all good teams. Everyone has beaten some of the best teams in India. We have got a good experience playing against the foreign teams and we know where we are lacking and where we can improve ourselves. We are looking forward towards building ourselves going ahead in the future,” Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla said prior to the match.
“Mistakes are not negotiable in such a high-performance tournament. If you give space and time, then the opposition are going to hurt you. So, the small details are very important to keep in mind, you know, in our approach and preparation ahead of the match. We are getting better in everything now,” Sudeva coach Chencho Dorji listed out some key learning that his boys have taken from this tournament so far.
ATK Mohun Bagan vs RF Young Champs – 8 pm
ATK Mohun Bagan will face Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC), who are the third-place occupants from Group B. The Mariners had drawn against West Ham United FC earlier in the tournament whereas RFYC defeated Sudeva Delhi FC 1-0. These results propelled them to finish at the penultimate spot in the standings. The two teams have demonstrated some impressive competitiveness as they have stayed true to their footballing philosophies irrespective of the stature of the opposition that they have come across in the tournament.
They have been dynamic going forward and resilient on the defensive front simultaneously. The upcoming game is an excellent opportunity for them to showcase the progress that they have made in their gameplay after the experiences of the last couple of weeks.
The penultimate day at #RelianceFoundation presents #PLNextGen Cup 2023 👊— RF Youth Sports (@RFYouthSports) May 24, 2023
Watch the action LIVE on Reliance Foundation Youth Sports, @IndSuperLeague & @premierleague YouTube channels! 👀@ril_foundation @PLforIndia | #RelianceFoundation #PLNextGen #WHUEVE #ATKMBRFYC #SDFCBFC pic.twitter.com/6fT1x53l9T
“The experience during the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup has been fantastic. There are clubs from three different countries. So far, we have only played two Premier League sides but both teams were very competitive. My personal opinion is that we have proven that we can compete against Premier League teams both technically and tactically. Of course, we face a lot of challenges physically but at least on the footballing front we were there to compete. So, that was fantastic to see,” RFYC coach Arata Izumi touched upon the level of competition that his team has come across until now.
“That’s what I try to teach, coach and show when I am in front of them. If they are happy, it means everything is going on well. It doesn’t mean that we don’t push them. Of course, we push them but with good environment the things can go smoothly and easily. People in a good environment perform better. So, that’s what we try to do. Of course, we have ups and downs in this but if you see today everybody was enjoying in the last session. Everyone was happy. Tomorrow, again, we have a challenge and we are ready for it,” ATK Mohun Bagan coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert said in the aftermath of his team’s training session today.
West Ham United FC vs Everton FC – 8pm
Premier League teams West Ham United FC and Everton FC secured the second spot in their respective groups and will thus lock horns tomorrow. The Hammers played out a gruelling 3-3 draw against finalists Stellenbosch FC yesterday. They consistently chased the winner in a closely contested game that went back and forth throughout the course of the match.
On the other hand, the Toffees edged past RFYC to emerge victorious 2-1 on Tuesday. They have really grown into the tournament after a slow start as they faced a 4-0 loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in their opening fixture. There will be an aura of familiarity between the two teams as they often face each other in England and it hence looks likely that the spectators will witness an enthralling game of end-to-end football.
“The tournament has come at a very good time for us. We have had a long, hard season and we have tried to instil a lot of messages to the team, across the entire season. This is a real good opportunity for us to play in a different environment against teams that we are not very familiar with,” Everton coach Kieran Driscoll said as he appreciated the timing of the tournament and its benefit to his boys.
Driscoll added, “The lads have placed a lot of emphasis on taking all the messages that we have given them across the season and have shown us in this tournament what they have learnt.”
“We are here not only for the footballing experience, which is very diverse and unique, but also for the overall cultural experience. The boys have been able to experience different things on a daily basis. The football has been a real bonus but essentially we are here to learn, become better people and better players forward,” West Ham United coach Lauris Coggin quipped.