Punjab FC & Delhi FC coaches laud Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) as they make it to National Group Stage

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Competition was tough, but we set our plan from the beginning - Delhi FC coach Hussain PA
Competition was tough, but we set our plan from the beginning - Delhi FC coach Hussain PA
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Punjab FC & Delhi FC coaches laud Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) as they make it to National Group Stage

RFDL solves a major problem by giving competitive game time to reserve team players: Punjab FC coach Praveen Kumar

Players are motivated to put their best foot forward in the ISL: Delhi FC coach Hussain PA

Delhi, March 22: Punjab FC and Delhi FC secured their first major milestone in the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) 2023 – 2024 by breaking out of the North Zone group in the Regional Qualifiers to make it to the National Group Stage of the elite youth level tournament. Upon completing their respective feats, coaches of both teams positively reflected on the exposure that the competition provides to their players, and how helpful it has been in allowing them to scout newer talents and get their players better prepared for the rigours of the senior team football.

Punjab FC coach Praveen Kumar expressed happiness after their 3-0 victory over AIPL FC in their final clash of the Regional Qualifiers.Punjab FC secured 28 points out of a possible 30 across the 10 games in the first round of the competition to become one amongst the 20 teams that will now battle for a coveted spot in the National Championship of the elite youth football tournament.

“We are happy that our team qualified for the next stage in the competition. It will be more competitive as the best 20 teams will participate across the nation. We will be as competitive as we were in the Regional Qualifiers. For our players and our club it’s all about holistic development, which also includes learning how to win. We will represent the philosophy of the club,” Punjab FC coach Praveen Kumar said about his team’s future course of action.

We are happy that our team qualified for the next stage in the competition. It will be more competitive as the best 20 teams will participate across the nation - Punjab FC coach Praveen Kumar.JPG

“RFDL solves a big problem”

Coach Praveen was appreciative of the RFDL for bridging the gap between reserve team football and the top-tier Indian Super League (ISL), with the competition helping provide competitive game-time to scores of youngsters and ensuring that they refine their skillsets before becoming first-team regulars. Being the only ISL club from north India, Praveen mentioned that they also utilised the opportunity of playing in the RFDL to scout potential players whom they could recruit in the future.

“In the absence of any official league in this age category, for a club like us the gap between Reserve/U19 to our ISL team is a very big jump for any player. RFDL solves the problem by providing those crucial competitive games for young talent,” he said. “We as the only ISL club in north India had a great opportunity to scout young players, there were good young talented players in almost all the teams we faced,” he further added.

“Players are motivated to put their best foot forward in the RFDL”

Delhi FC coach Hussain PA mentioned that the RFDL has gradually become a reliable scouting platform that can help teams across the country strengthen their talent spotting network. He even coined a new term for the youth development league, i.e. Mini ISL, simply because of the multiple players from there who are plying their trade in the RFDL. He touched upon the importance of maintaining supreme playing standards, saying that routines developed at a young age carry forward at the senior team level for many players.

“The RFDL is a big stage where players are incredibly motivated to give their best across 10 games. It helps them get some good playing time under their belt. I would say that it’s the No. 1 elite youth development league in the country and gives players a good platform to get scouted by either ISL teams or for the national team. It is a Mini ISL in itself, because some young ISL stars also participate and play in the entirety of the competition. The youngsters should keep high playing standards so that they are fresh and ready to take on the challenges of the senior team in the future,” he signed off.

Competition was tough, but we set our plan from the beginning - Delhi FC coach Hussain PA.JPG

“Timely analysis helped us overcome tough competition”

Accompanying Punjab FC in the National Group Stage of the RFDL 2023 – 2024 from the North Zone will be Delhi FC. They pulled off a commendable 1-1 draw against Sudeva Delhi FC, who finished runners-up in RFDL 2023, but couldn’t progress beyond the first round this time. Akash Tirkey put Delhi FC ahead in the 14th minute of the game, but Sudeva’s Sridarth Nongmeikapam equalised in the 74th minute. However, the result was enough to help Delhi FC sail into the next round of RFDL 2023 – 2024.

“Competition was tough, but we set our plan from the beginning. We overcame challenges by analysing every game in the first leg, and following it up with decided plans in the following leg. We understood their playing styles, patterns, set-piece routines, overall strength and weaknesses, and our plans worked out properly,” Delhi FC coach Hussain PA said.

“Punjab FC discovered its own solutions”

Coach Praveen also expressed that several sides from the North Zone provided his players a tough run for their money in the Regional Qualifiers. He hailed their tactical nous, but instead argued that his players focus on ticking off their own objectives and that strategy held them in good stead in the previous 10 matches.

“In the initial stage of RFDL we faced decent competition as we played some good sides such as Delhi FC, Sudeva Delhi, Rajasthan United etc. They were good tactically and we appreciated the competition they faced, for us it was about the development of our players and how they can solve their individual situations during the game. We are happy to say they did pretty well in discovering their own solution,” he said.

Skipper Omang Dodum found the back of the net twice against AIPL FC, first in the 35th minute and then in the added time of the first-half to get his team on the front foot. His brace was accompanied by a 38th minute goal scored by defender Aniket Yadav. AIPL finished sixth in the group in their first competitive tournament since the establishment of the club.

Points Table

RFDL North Region  _ Points Table.jpeg

RFDL 2024 fixtures: https://www.rfyouthsports.com/football/rfdl/schedule-fixtures

About Post Author

Editor Desk

Antara Tripathy M.Sc., B.Ed. by qualification and bring 15 years of media reporting experience.. Coverred many illustarted events like, G20, ICC,MCCI,British High Commission, Bangladesh etc. She took over from the founder Editor of IBG NEWS Suman Munshi (15/Mar/2012- 09/Aug/2018 and October 2020 to 13 June 2023).
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