RFDL National Championship semi-finals: Bengaluru FC, Sudeva Delhi FC book final berth
Bengaluru FC defeated ATK Mohun Bagan in a thrilling penalty shootout at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) today to cruise to the finals of the Reliance Foundation Developmental League (RFDL) after the game was stuck at 1-1 in regulation time.
Thumsol Tongsin missed the decisive seventh spot-kick in the shootout to hand the Blues this emphatic victory. Huidrom Thoi Singh from Bengaluru FC scored a wonder strike in the 61st minute to help the Blues get ahead in the contest and break the deadlock after an hour of some gruelling end-to-end football.
Thoi came into this tournament on the back of a stunning first-half hat-trick that he scored against FC Goa in their National Group Stage faceoff in Bangalore. He demonstrated some incredible footwork after collecting the ball near the halfway mark and getting past a couple of ATKMB players before unleashing a venomous strike that found the back of the net from outside the box to help Bangalore get a crucial lead in the encounter.
However, ATKMB managed to gather themselves in the final 10 minutes and started building up some pressure with some impressive passing moves. They earned a free-kick near the touchline with minutes to go before the halftime whistle and forward Ningombam Engson Singh pounced upon the deflected free-kick to hit a powerful strike and find the equaliser to push the game into penalties.
Both the teams held strong for a significant period in the shootouts but ATKMB finally perished courtesy a great save by Bengaluru goalkeeper and skipper Sharon.
It was #Sharon with a winning save for the #TheBlues to beat @atkmohunbaganfc on penalties! 🧤🔵#ATKMBBFC #RFDL #RelianceFoundationDevelopmentLeague #ATKMohunBagan #BengaluruFC #LetsPlay pic.twitter.com/plFbeNdJiG— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) May 11, 2023
“Football always brings us new training sessions, new experiences and new games. In two days, we have the third-place playoff, which we want to win. Then there is the Next Gen Cup. So, there is always a next opportunity, a next exam,” said ATKMB coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert as he reflected on his team’s loss after a highly competitive clash.
“There is no time to regret. There is no time to cry. We will cry a little bit now in the changing. Tomorrow there is a training session and then we keep moving to the third-place game. This is football. This is life,” he added.
On the other hand, Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla heaped praise on Thoi Singh, who walked away with the Player of the Match award from this game.
“Thoi has developed really well because he has been starting and playing games continuously. His style of play has also improved at the same. If you observe tonight’s goal as well, technique wise, his entire performance levels have gone up very high,” Ambapardiwalla touched upon the impressive form demonstrated by his star player.
Bengaluru FC 1 (7) (Huidrom Thoi Singh 61’) – 1 (6) (Ningombam Engson Singh 87’) ATK Mohun Bagan
Sudeva Delhi FC see off Reliance Foundation Young Champs
Sudeva Delhi FC stormed into the finals of the Reliance Foundation Developmental League (RFDL) courtesy a 1-0 victory against the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) tonight in Navi Mumbai. They will now lock horns with Bengaluru FC (BFC) at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) on May 14 in the grand finale of the second season of the RFDL.
The team from the national capital netted in the 67th minute as defender Chungkham Jackson pulled off a delicate chipped pass that forward Seilenthang Lotjem brought down with perfection and then put it past RFYC goalkeeper Ranit Sarkar to help the visiting side get a foot ahead in the proceedings.
S. Lotjem gives @SudevaDelhi the lead! 🤩— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) May 11, 2023
Watch #RFYCSDFC LIVE on: https://t.co/RFZh4wB9ja#RFDL #LetsPlay #RelianceFoundationDevelopmentLeague #RelianceFootballYoungChamps #SudevaDelhiFC pic.twitter.com/HBS2FxeIAk
Sudeva followed it up by tightening their backline and thwarting the waves of attacks that RFYC inflicted on them later on. The victory is significant as RFYC had cruised into the semi-finals unbeaten in both the regional qualifiers as well as in their National Group Stage matches.
However, Sudeva looked undeterred by the quality of the opposition up against them as they gave it their all and repeatedly looked to breach the RFYC backline in multiple ways. They tried to carve out some openings through the flanks but eventually found success in adopting a bit of a direct approach that caught the RFYC defence off-guard.
Sudeva did not come across many goal-scoring opportunities as such but Seilengthang’s composed finish ensured that they capitalised upon the occasional breakthrough that they managed to open up. They were smart in managing the game thereafter, often taking their time to build up from the back and ensuring that RFYC didn’t catch hold of the possession for a long enough period of time.
RFYC, though, will be aiming to finish their campaign on a high as they take on ATK Mohun Bagan in the third-place playoff match on Saturday.
“This defeat itself is the biggest takeaway for the boys, so, looking forward for more from them. Of course, we have another game just coming up. We have the chance of becoming a top three team in our country. The Next Generation Cup is also coming up. So, our preparations start from tomorrow. Our heads are always up,” RFYC coach and former India international Arata Izumi reflected on the result in the aftermath of the game.
“I want to win. But, let’s see, more than that the most important thing is to enjoy and learn in every game,” Sudeva coach Chencho Dorji said about the team’s upcoming final clash against Bengaluru FC. “We came up very strongly. We got a goal and I was pretty sure that every team is normal I think,” he added as he addressed RFYC and the challenge that they presented in front of Sudeva.
Sudeva FC 1 (Seilenthang Lotjem 67’) – 0 Reliance Foundation Young Champs
Schedule, May 14, 2023 – Sunday
3rd place playoff – ATK Mohun Bagan vs RFYC - RCP, Mumbai
Final – Bengaluru FC vs Sudeva FC – RCP, Mumbai