Wolverhampton Wanderers FC reigned supreme in the PL Next Gen Cup 2023 presented by Reliance Foundation as they beat defending champions Stellenbosch FC 5-4 on penalties after an enthralling 1-1 draw in regulation time.

The Premier League side had a swashbuckling campaign, going unbeaten in the group stage with a 100% win record, collecting all nine points in three games, scoring ten goals and conceding zero in the process.

Wolves coach James Collins, who turned his side into a dominant one and guided them to glory, opened up on his experience of the one-of-a-kind tournament and the football in India. 

Collins’ men took on two Indian sides, RF Young Champs and Sudeva Delhi FC, in their title-winning run, having won both the fixtures comfortably. This is what Collins had to say about the opposition:

“The Indian opposition have been very together, very spirited and technically very good. There's obviously some good coaching going on. We’ve maybe got that little bit more tactical knowledge. My Dad was taking me to football at two years of age, which is a bit like cricket over here,” he stated in a club interview.

From two Hero ISL clubs – Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC – in the first edition of PL Next Gen Cup to four Indian sides – Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, RF Youth Champs, and Sudeva Delhi FC – in the latest edition, teams have been making big strides to develop their youth academies. Platforms such as Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) and the PL Next Gen Cup have provided clubs with several exposure in order to improve the quality of football right from the youth stages.

The 45-year-old believes this is a step towards the right direction and feels that with time, teams are bound to improve.

“It’s very difficult to gain that tactical knowledge in a short space of time. You’ve got to be patient, but I see enthusiasm, togetherness and technical ability. Improved physicality would be one improvement and the other would be that little bit of game understanding. If they do improve that, then they’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” he concluded.