With all eyes set on the Next Gen Cup 2022, Bengaluru FC’s reserve team have defeated AFC Wimbledon 3-1 in a comeback win, in a friendly encounter, ahead of the much-awaited competition. Their head coach, Naushad Moosa, was grateful for the platform provided by the FSDL (Football Sports Development Limited) and Premier League for the exponential development of the footballing youth of the nation.

“This is something great that Reliance and FSDL have done. This partnership will really help. I could hear the players speaking that there might be some scouts, and we can get a bigger opportunity. So, this is something that goes into a player’s mind and they might want to give a better performance at least thinking that they might get an opportunity. So this is something which is really nice. I feel this partnership between FSDL and the Premier League should go a long way," Moosa said.

Also Read: Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC to face off against Premier League teams in Next Generation Cup in the UK

The Next Gen Cup, which is part of the FSDL and Premier League’s long-standing partnership, features eight teams in total - five Premier League academy teams, one team from South Africa, and two teams from India.

Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC came out as the winners and runners-up, respectively, of the inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL). Both teams qualified through the top-two selection criteria for the international tournament.

“When we went for the RFDL, I told the boys to go there and enjoy the football. It was not that we were going on a vacation, we had a purpose. That really worked for us. And that’s the reason we are here now. I would like to thank FSDL and even the Premier League for giving us this great opportunity. It’s a very big platform for these boys to come and perform here," Moosa added.

Other than the tournament, the FSDL and the Premier League have also been working in talent development, community engagement, and a host of other activities pertaining to the holistic development of Indian football.

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“Now, my son is in the Bengaluru U12s team. When I showed him that we came here and went to Wembley, he was so excited. He was saying that I also want to be here. So this is something for the youngsters to look upon and work harder to be here. And it’s not only for Bengaluru but most of the clubs in the country, it will really help them to perform and get better. I am sure that the level of football will go higher," he said.

“It was the first match for me and the boys against a foreign team. It was only in the second half I could read the opponent, how they play and what their formation is. So during halftime, we gave them instructions in the dressing room on how to go about in the second half. We were successful in that," Moosa further added.

The Blue Colts are up in action against Leicester City FC on Wednesday. Captain Namgyal Bhutia, after beating AFC Wimbledon, has conveyed his aspiration to the team to give their best performance on the pitch.

“It feels amazing to win against Wimbledon. It was a very good game for us. Both the teams created so many chances. We gave our best and scored the goals. I think it’s a good opportunity to play against Leicester City because we can get so much confidence after playing them. We learn from them also, and we try to give our best," concluded Bhutia, who has already made seven appearances in the Hero ISL.