Next Gen Cup: Four massive fixtures to look forward to as clubs fight for top berths
RFYC, ATKMB, Sudeva, and Bengaluru FC will be in action today.
Day two of the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup will have all eight teams lock horns in their group games at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) tomorrow. The eight teams including four from India, three from England and the one South African will look to strengthen their chances of finishing at the top of their group.
The first-placed side from both the groups will face each other in the finals of the tournament on May 26, Friday. Here is how the schedule and matches stack up for Saturday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers FC vs RF Young Champs – 4pm
The Wolves will look to carry on their good form against an equally upbeat and positive Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) side at 4pm. Both teams come into this game on the back of victories in their respective previous match. Wolverhampton defeated fellow English rivals Everton by 4-0 on Wednesday while RFYC secured a 1-0 win over Sudeva Dekhi FC. RFYC will have to be wary of the Wolves’ set-piece threat but this is an opportunity for them to prove their mettle against a cohesively coached and promising opponent.
“Of course, we study about them from their previous games. From the set-pieces, they have a great delivery from number 8. They have some plans to disturb the defending shape. It will be interesting. We try to study as much as possible and we try to prepare the boys as much as possible. So, now, its fingers crossed and let’s see,” RFYC coach Arata Izumi assessed the Wolves ahead of their faceoff.
“We certainly won’t take any of the Indian clubs lightly. We come here with the greatest respect for any of the opponents that we play. I have been in the game long enough to know that the moment you take any team lightly, that’s when you get hurt. That’s when you get beaten. We certainly won’t do that with the teams we are not sure of. If the players do that, we know we will get punished,” Wolves coach James Collins expressed.
Sudeva Delhi FC vs Everton FC – 4pm
Here, the two sides will be edging to notch their first win of the tournament after results that didn’t go their way in the tournament opener.
Sudeva showed a lot of heart irrespective of the loss to RFYC. They are a team in form, which is quite evident from their performances in the RFDL. On the other hand, the Toffees must have taken abundant learning from the game against Wolves. They have had more time to train and practice now and the Merseyside team will hence be hoping to put in a much more refined performance in their second match of the season.
“Anything can happen if we can capitalise on our opportunities. But, Wolves seemed to be very strong. So we have to be realistic too. Obviously we need to have a precise plan for that but let’s see how we work tomorrow, Sudeva coach Chencho Dorji spoke of Everton and their defeat to the Wolves on Wednesday.
“I think we watched the game that they (Sudeva) played. We saw a well-organised team, a well-structured one that was unfortunate to lose the game. Another day and it could have been a different story. But yeah, we have analysed the team. We know what their strengths and weaknesses are and we will certainly be putting the message across to our lads and let them know what to expect,” Everton coach Kieran Driscoll touched upon Sudeva and their performance against RFYC the other day.
West Ham United FC vs Bengaluru FC – 8pm
Both West Ham United FC and Bengaluru FC played out a neck-to-neck contest on Wednesday. The Hammers, who are the incumbent FA Youth Cup winners, drew 1-1 to ATK Mohun Bagan courtesy a 64th minute goal by substitute Favour Fawunmi. They were unable to break through a resilient Mariners team for over an hour.
Bengaluru might have taken some cues from that game as they will be looking to open their account after dealing with a narrow 1-0 loss to defending champions Stellenbosch FC in their last match. The Blues had been unable to make the most of some good goal-scoring opportunities in that game. Some greater efficiency from the frontline will hold them in good stead against West Ham United.
“I look at my team first. I look at my strength. I plan according to my strength and their weaknesses as well. But, it depends on how they and we play that day,” Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla spoke of if he senses a chance to win the upcoming match considering West Ham’s performance against ATK Mohun Bagan on May 17.
He added, “Winning the RFDL and most importantly we are now playing against teams we don’t know when we will play next. So, it’s an opportunity for us to play against those teams that are good at the highest level. So, we can both learn and improve from them.”
“We are looking for building connections, building relationships because we have boys coming around from different age groups. Not often do they play together week to week, so each game, each training session is an opportunity us to build upon,” West Ham coach Lauris Coggin said post his team’s training session on the eve of their game against Bengaluru.
“They are energetic, hungry to impress and perform, which is something that we have to be ready for from the first minute. We have learnt a lot from the first game. We have had time to reflect on that and we are looking forward to tomorrow,” Coggin added.
ATK Mohun Bagan FC vs Stellenbosch FC – 8pm
Defending champions Stellenbosch FC will take on a spirited ATK Mohun Bagan unit at 8pm at RCP. Both teams scored a goal each in their last game but had demonstrated some great defensive discipline that kept their opponents at bay. The Mariners will be high on confidence after holding West Ham to a draw in the previous match whereas Stellenbosch marked a flawless start to their campaign with a 1-0 win over Bengaluru FC. ATK Mohun Bagan were back on the training ground, practicing multiple drills and moves to level up their performance when they face Stellenbosch on Saturday.
“All the clubs and all the national team staff everybody has to say thank you for this (to Reliance Foundation). Last season, there were eight teams, this season is around 60, and maybe next season 200 teams will play for this beautiful cup. The country needs this. We need matches. We need tournaments. We need leagues. We need to give exposure to our players. So, thanks to Reliance. We all have to be grateful and say thank you for these matches,” ATK Mohun Bagan coach Josep Maria Roma Gibert reflected on his team’s journey in the RFDL and the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup.
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