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Top five players from RFDL 2024

Published at :May 19, 2024 at 8:29 PM
Modified at :May 19, 2024 at 8:29 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL/Reliance Foundation Youth Sports)

Bishal Deb

The third edition of the RFDL saw Punjab FC bag their maiden title.

The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) plays a pivotal role in the advancement of young footballers in India. Having just concluded its third season, the RFDL stands as India’s largest and most inclusive youth tournament, featuring over 50 teams from across the nation. The RFDL predominantly offers U-21 players, along with a few overage (U-23) players, unparalleled opportunities to refine their skills and provide them with much needed game-time at this crucial age group.

The RFDL is structured into three phases: first, the regional qualifiers; followed by the national group stage; and culminating in the National Championship round. This season, Punjab FC emerged as champions, defeating East Bengal FC 3-2 in a thrilling final.

Let’s spotlight the top five standout players from this season, who are set to shape the future of Indian football.

5. Manabir Basumatary (East Bengal FC)

Manabir Basumatary proved to be a linchpin in East Bengal FC’s defence throughout the RFDL campaign, from the regional qualifiers to the National Championship round. As a 19 year-old centre-back, his calm demeanour and stability were crucial in fortifying the backline. Basumatary’s instrumental role was evident as he helped the Red & Gold Brigade secure an impressive eight clean-sheets in 16 games. Previously also being a member of India’s 2023 SAFF U-19 Championship team, Basumatary’s contributions highlight his potential as a future star in Indian football.

4. Salahudeen Adnan K (Muthoot FA)

Salahudeen Adnan K emerged as a standout player for Muthoot FA in this season’s RFDL, playing a pivotal role in their impressive run to the final stages. Known for his lethal goal-scoring abilities, Adnan was instrumental in his team’s offensive prowess. Muthoot FA netted a remarkable 41 goals in 14 games, the highest among the teams that reached the National Championship phase. Adnan topped the goal-scoring charts for his team, striking 10 times and establishing himself as a formidable forward in this year’s competition. His contributions were crucial in Muthoot FA’s success, marking him as one of the most promising talents in the league.

3. Muhammad Suhail F (Punjab FC)

Top five players from RFDL 2024  Muhammad Suhail F Punjab FC
Suhail in action against East Bengal. (Courtesy: Reliance Foundation Youth Sports)

Muhammad Suhail F dazzled the RFDL with his exceptional talent, earning the prestigious Golden Ball as the league’s best player. Operating predominantly on the left flank, Suhail was instrumental in orchestrating Punjab FC’s attacks, contributing significantly to their success. His creativity and vision were evident in every game, making him a constant threat to the opposition. At just 17, Suhail showcased his talent on the grand stage, proving his mettle in high-pressure situations. With such a stellar performance in the RFDL, a bright future undoubtedly lies ahead for this young prodigy.

2. Monirul Molla (Bengaluru FC)

Monirul Molla stood out as one of the best players in this year’s RFDL, cementing his status as a top prospect for the future. Representing Bengaluru FC, Monirul was the leading goal-scorer in the national group stage round, netting five goals. While Bengaluru FC couldn’t replicate their previous two seasons’ success, Monirul’s exceptional performance was a positive aspect for the club. His talent has already been recognized at a higher level, as he has registered eight appearances for Bengaluru FC’s main team in the ISL 2023-24 season. 

1. Omang Dodum (Punjab FC)

Top five players from RFDL 2024 Omang Dodum Punjab FC
Omang Dodum was a standout player from the entire Punjab FC contingent. (Courtesy: Reliance Foundation Youth Sports)

Omang Dodum, the top prodigy of this RFDL season, hails from Arunachal Pradesh. Winning the Golden Boot with an impressive 14 goals, Omang’s great off-the-ball movement, positioning, and top-class finishing were central to his team’s success. His remarkable ability to find the back of the net helped Punjab FC score 41 goals in this campaign. The 16-year-old was a key factor in Punjab FC’s triumph, well-supported by Manglenthang Kipgen and Muhammad Suhail F. He also represented India U-17 previously and now his outstanding performance in the RFDL marks him as a top talent in Indian football.

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