Kerala Blasters FC will have experience on their side when they take on Mumbai City FC in a second-round match at the inaugural Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) at the Nagoa Ground on Wednesday.
In the other match of the day, Hyderabad FC and Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) will both look to get back to winning ways at the Benaulim Ground.
Kerala had five of their starting XI players with Hero Indian Super League experience, the likes of Ayush Adhikari, Vincy Barretto, Givson Singh, and Sanjeev Stalin playing an important part in their road to the final where they lost to Hyderabad FC. It was there for all to see in their opener against the Hyderabad here, the boys in yellow scripting a 2-0 victory with Barretto getting on the scoresheet and skipper Adhikari putting in a commendable shift.
Coach Tomasz Tchorz will expect the same from his wards against a Mumbai side who do not have any first-team players who were part of their ISL campaign. Mumbai lost to Jamshedpur 0-3 in their first outing, the Islanders lacking that cutting edge and experience compared to their counterparts.
The players at Mumbai have been together for four years now, having graduated from the U18 and U15s to be part of the reserve team setup. Against Kerala, coach Mohan Dass will have to work on the team’s morale after a disappointing loss as the team looks to bounce back as early as possible starting with a stern test against the experienced Kerala who has set the early marker along with Jamshedpur.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad will be desperate to log a win after a bad day in office, losing to Kerala 0-2 in their first match of the campaign. Among the positives, Abdul Rabeeh and C. Lalchungnunga combined well upfront for the just-crowned ISL champions and coach Shameel Chembakath will hope they continue the good work against RFYC. Hyderabad also left a lot of space at the back for Kerala to exploit and will have to be more compact with Amritpal Singh and Singson, who was guilty of conceding an own goal, leaving room for improvement.
The RF Young Champs were second-best against Bengaluru in their first encounter, still giving a good account of themselves with the likes of Chirag Bhujel and Sanan Mohammed trying their best to conjure up opportunities. The youngest team in the tournament, RFYC, looked good in the second half against Bengaluru and coach Arata Izumi will have his task cut out against Hyderabad.