All four teams will aim to make a winning start to the league.
A meeting for their senior colleagues in the final not many days back still fresh in memory, both Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters FC will look to renew their rivalry when the two sides meet in the inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) at the Nagoa Football Ground here on Saturday.
In another face-off at Benaulim, Mumbai City FC colts will look to take inspiration from the senior side’s impressive display in their maiden AFC Champions League appearance when they take on Jamshedpur FC, who will not be less motivated themselves, coming on the back of their League Shield triumph in the Hero Indian Super League last month.
The next generation of Hyderabad FC players will look to replicate what Manolo Marquez and his charges did at the same venue less than a month ago, and have been preparing for the RFDL for some time now with strong performances in the CEM Gold Cup in Assam.
The Hyderabad reserve team have players with first-team football experience like Mark Zothanpuia, Abdul Rabeeh, Lalbiakhlua Jongte, and Amritpal Singh who were all a part of their historic campaign. Coached by Shameel Chembakath, the boys have spent time together playing tournaments like the Durand Cup and the IFA Shield and that should stand them in good stead.
For Kerala, who lost the Hero ISL final to Hyderabad, players from the first team like Sanjeev Stalin, Bijoy V, Ayush Adhikari, and Vincy Barretto will add teeth to their aspirations as coach Tomasz Tchorz looks to follow footsteps of senior team counterpart Ivan Vukomanović and further strengthen the pool.
Later in the day, Jamshedpur Youth Team (TFA) cadets will test the waters against a Mumbai side coached by Mohan Dass and having players who will be eager to showcase their talent given the Islanders are without any player from the first team. Jamshedpur, meanwhile, have all of their players born after 2002, meaning they will field all U-20 players for all the games. Besides players born on or after January 1, 2001, who would be eligible to take part, teams will be allowed to field three U-23 players (born on or after January 1, 1999) in the playing XI and have five of such players in their squad.
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