PL Next Gen Cup: Battle for all important top spot as both groups play final day of group stages
Day three of the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup will take place at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) in Navi Mumbai on Tuesday as all eight teams pitted in two groups will compete against each other across four matches in what promises to be an exciting day of competitive football. The teams will face their counterparts from the other group after Tuesday’s set of matches and hence the upcoming games are important for them to seal their final position in their respective groups.
Stellenbosch FC vs West Ham United – 4 pm
Stellenbosch have had a impeccable start to their season. They have maintained a clean sheet and secured victories in each of their two games so far.
The defending champions face West Ham United will arguably pose a sterner challenge in front of the South African side. The Hammers defeated Everton FC 4-0 on Saturday and seem to have regained their form after a 1-1 draw against ATK Mohun Bagan in their season opener last week.
“They have got some good, athletic, technical players. They have a nice organisation. They press well, play good football. It’s going to be a nice test for the boys, you know,” Stellenbosch FC coach Evangelos Vellios said prior to the match.
“In our first game, the team (Bengaluru FC) was trying to keep possession. In our second game, the team (ATK Mohun Bagan) was trying to play on the counter attack. I think there will be goals and both teams will be trying to impose their styles and the team that takes their chances will come out on top,” Vellios added.
“We are expecting a very tough game against a very strong team, Stellenbosch. It is a challenge that we are looking forward to. We know how important it is where we finish in the group so we have a challenge,” West Ham United coach Lauris Coggin previewed his team’s match against Stellenbosch.
ATK Mohun Bagan FC vs Bengaluru FC – 4 pm
ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC come into this match on the back of defeats to Stellenbosch FC and West Ham United respectively.
However, the two Indian clubs have shown tremendous temperament and talent in their matches first in the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) and then in the ongoing Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup as well.
Bengaluru had edged past the Mariners by a slender margin in penalty shootout during their faceoff in the semi-final of the RFDL and ATK Mohun Bagan will hence be eager to secure three points in this game.
“They (ATK Mohun Bagan) have also analysed us and we have also analysed them. We have to play our own philosophy. We have to develop ourselves as a team. We are looking forward to this game because we have played them and they are good opponents also at the same time,” Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla assessed his opponents for Tuesday’s match.
“This is a tournament where we have to play two-time RFDL champions (Bengaluru FC). They have won RFDL twice, which is not just by chance. They have done something well and the vocabulary of revenge is not in my dictionary. It’s a new competition, new match, and new surface, different minutes, so, everything is different,” ATK Mohun Bagan coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert spoke about the opposition.
“If we draw, we will play against the third placed side of the other group. They (Bengaluru) didn’t beat us. They scored only one more penalty than us (in RFDL semi-finals). So, let’s see, it will be a beautiful game between top level Indian teams again, so I am quite happy and excited for the game,” the tactician added.
Sudeva Delhi FC vs Wolverhampton Wanderers FC – 8 pm
Sudeva Delhi FC have been slightly unlucky in tournament. Their opponents have outscored them by a solitary goal in both matches so far and they now face Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are on an unbeaten streak right now.
The Wolves have been very efficient from set-pieces and notched a 2-0 win against the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) in their last match. They had put four past Everton in the preceding game and hence appear to be in promising goal-scoring touch presently. Sudeva, on the other hand, have been resilient defensively and will definitely give the Wolves a run for their money at the RCP.
“We have watched their (Wolves’) videos. We will try to solve the problems. Today, we will train an hour of defensive and attacking approach for Tuesday’s game. So, yeah, they are quite strong but it is good to have a match with them,” Sudeva coach Chencho Dorji spoke of Wolves’ set-piece prowess.
“It’s our finishing. We create chances and in both matches we got our chances. It’s not like we didn’t work on that. I think we are missing some experience and it will only improve game after game so we will take it on positively and work on the same,” he said about aspects of the game that his team needs to improve upon after the first two matches.
“We take every opposition of ours with respect, all different cultures, and all different people. We knew Everton before we played them. We didn’t know Bengaluru FC (style of play). Now, we have got Sudeva Delhi and they look to me like a strong side,” Wolves’ coach James Collins said as he addressed the challenge that Sudeva can pose to them.
Collins further said, “They look to me as a side that can cause a lot of problems. We have got to show them respect, but we have to play our game. We have to focus on us and if we do that then I think we can win the game.”
Reliance Foundation Young Champs vs Everton – 10 pm
Everton, who tasted their first win of the season against Sudeva the other day, will now lock horns with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC). The Toffees have one of the youngest squads in the tournament comprising a majority of U-17 players.
They displayed tremendous determination to chase the winner until the very last minute and accordingly won the game against Sudeva on Saturday. RFYC, on the other hand, put in a very improved performance in the second-half of their game against the Wolves. The team opened their account with a 1-0 victory over Sudeva in their first match of the campaign and will be looking to add another win to the tally against the Premier League side on Tuesday.
“We have brought a very young team here with 50 per cent of the squad being U17s. Of the remaining 50 per cent, there are U18s and then we have got one U19 player as part of the group. We obviously want to be competitive. We want to try and win games of football, which is what the lads are prepared to do when they get into the senior level,” Everton coach Kieran Driscoll reflected on his team and the vision that they have come into this tournament with.
Driscoll added, “But, we are very much individual and development focused. So, every player has their own individual plan and we are looking to impose the same style of play across the group. So, it is very much about development but we want to instil the winning mentality within them as well
“Definitely, the mental preparation. We experienced this against Wolves and now we have another Premier League team. It shouldn’t affect us. From the first minute, we should go to show that we are here to express our football, compete and still overcome the opponent,” RFYC coach Arata Izumi had encouraged his boys to be mentally stronger irrespective of the opponent on the field ahead of their next clash.