RFDL: Bengaluru FC retains crown in a nail-biting finale

Bengaluru FC defeated Sudeva Delhi FC on 4-3 in penalties to emerge victorious in the final of the second season of the Reliance Foundation Developmental League (RFDL) in Navi Mumbai tonight.

The Blues defended their title in style as they held their nerves in a tense shootout after a highly-motivated Sudeva unit put them behind twice in regulation time. The game ended 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes and only the barest of margins separated these two incredibly promising teams in the summit clash of the RFDL.

Sudeva opened the scoring with Seilanthang Lotjem capitalizing on a cross from the right flank to round off a fine finish in the 17th minute. Lotjem helped his team build up that play from the midfield, running through the inner channel to comfortably receive the pass and convert the opportunity to net the first goal of the night.

However, Bengaluru didn’t hold back thereafter. They immediately began counter-attacking and putting up numbers ahead, which resulted in Sudeva conceding a spot-kick to the Blues. Their star midfielder Huidrom Thoi Singh broke no sweat in equalizing the scores as both teams headed into half-time with the match hanging properly in balance.

The second essay kicked off with Sudeva gradually regaining its hold over the proceedings. They were composed in possession and made Bengaluru work hard to get the ball back at the center of the park. Sudeva’s midfielder Daniel Gurung made a quick run to get at the end of a long ball from the backline and put it past the Bengaluru goalkeeper Sharon in the 48th minute.

Players in action during the final of the Reliance Foundation Development league National Championship played between Sudeva Delhi FC and Bengaluru FC played at Reliance corporate park at Ghansoli, in Navi Mumbai on 14th May 2023 Photo: Focus Sports/ RFDL

The Blues yet again had to push hard to regain lost ground. They became more assertive with the ball at their feet, often attempting positive passes that could help them swing the game back in their favor. Their efforts bore fruit with substitute forward Satendra Singh Yadav coming off the bench to hit a powerful strike from the edge of the box to yet again level the scores and eventually force the game into a penalty shootout. Bengaluru’s skipper Sharon dived well on his right side to deny Sudeva’s forward Ramesh Chhetri the final spot-kick and led his boys to an emphatic win at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP).

“The quality of the players is really good. So, we knew that whatever happens, we would fight back. Whether we concede or not, it doesn’t matter. Because the players are of really good quality and we knew what our plans were. We played according to our plans and finally got the result that we wanted, so that’s what matters,” Bengaluru FC coach Kaizad Ambapardiwalla reflected on the fighting spirit demonstrated by his team by bouncing back twice to equalize during the match.

“It was a great journey and especially for Sudeva to be here in our first time in the tournament, hats off to the boys, you know! The young boys got a lot of matches so we have more experience than before. It has been a great platform for the boys to showcase their talent. We have a lot of academy players, who got a chance to play here. So definitely it will help Sudeva and it was a fantastic journey,” Sudeva Delhi FC coach Chencho Dorji spoke about the learning and takeaways for his players from their inspired run in the RFDL.

Final Score: Bengaluru FC (Thoi Singh 23’, Satendra Singh Yadav 67’) 2 (4)– 2 (3) Sudeva Delhi FC (Seilenthang Lotjem 17’, Daniel Gurung 48’)

Also ReadRFDL: ATK Mohun Bagan seal third-place 

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