Battle lines drawn as 20 clubs gear up for the National Group Stage of Reliance Foundation Development League 2024

Mumbai, April 11: The Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) 2024 has reached a pivotal moment as the Regional Qualifiers conclude, paving the way for an intense National Group Stage. This will take place across the four centres, i.e. Mumbai, Kozhikode, Delhi, and Goa from April 12-26 with 20 teams from eight zones, the stage is set for a thrilling display of talent and skill. Five teams are slotted in each group and they will battle it out across 40 games to make it to the National Championships that will host four clubs. 

Indian Super League coaches, including Antonio Habas, Head Coach of Mohun Bagan Super Giant, have emphasized the crucial role played by RFDL in shaping the future of Indian football. Habas highlighted the league’s impact on the scouting network, underscoring the importance of investing in youth development initiatives like RFDL.

“Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL) is very important because we need the academy and the young players for our first team. We need to invest in these projects, as the foundations of the game are important for me. The players become better technically because of such initiatives. Giving players game-time is especially very important. Exposing youngsters directly to the first-team is not good, so they need tournaments such as the RFDL. We have people who scout for every RFDL game as the future of Indian football is playing in this tournament,” said Antonio Habas.

The Regional Qualifiers showcased the depth of talent across various regions, with teams demonstrating remarkable skill and determination to secure their spot in the National Group Stage. From Mizoram to Mumbai, Goa to Meghalaya-Assam, young footballers displayed their potential, setting the stage for an exciting phase of the tournament.

Among the qualified clubs who topped the table from their regions include ISL clubs Bengaluru FC, East Bengal FC, Punjab FC and NorthEast United FC along with a young Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) unit. The league has yet again been headlined by the aspirational and exposure led vision that it offers to teams and players who do not get enough game time against some of the best clubs across the country.

In each of the regions, there have inspirational stories led by the qualifications of teams like Muthoot FA, Pax of Nagoa, Adamas United SA, Roots FC, Parrapur FC, Home Missions FC and Mighty Young Joe GMSC in addition to Delhi FC and Dempo SC, who have outplayed their counterparts, which includes some of the ISL clubs, showcasing the vast competitiveness, inclusivity and opportunity offered by RFDL.

As the tournament progresses, all eyes will be on the young talents who have the opportunity to shine on a national stage. RFDL remains committed to its mission of nurturing young talent and fostering the growth of football at the youth level, ensuring a bright future for Indian football.

Here is how the results panned out for the respective teams who qualified from each of the zones.

·         Mizoram Region- Home Missions FC qualified from here courtesy of a flawless campaign so far where they have won eight times and drawn twice in 10 encounters. With 26 points, they finished the regionals eight ahead of their closest competitors, i.e. the second-placed Inkhel FC (18). Home Missions FC struck the back of the net 27 times, and their Group C opponents in the National Group Stage, i.e. East Bengal FC, NorthEast United FC, Delhi FC, and Adamas United SA will have to be wary of their goal-scoring prowess.

·         Goa Region- Three teams, i.e. FC Goa, Dempo SC and Pax of Nagoa SC have made it to the next round from Goa. FC Goa topped the table with 23 points, whereas Dempo SC and Pax of Nagoa SC followed them with 22 and 18 to their tally respectively. Dempo SC are slotted in Group A and will hence play the National Group Stage in Mumbai. FC Goa and Pax of Nagoa SC are grouped B and D, and will compete in Kozhikode and Goa respectively.

·         South Region- Defending champions Bengaluru FC qualified from the South Region by finishing atop the table with 22 points from 10 games. They are accompanied by Roots FC and Chennaiyin FC, who are tied at 19 points each. Bengaluru FC and Chennaiyin FC will play their National Group Stage matches in Mumbai, whereas Roots FC are slated to lock horns with Group B teams in Kozhikode.

·         Kerala Region- Muthoot FA, Kerala Blasters FC, and Parappur FC have broken through the ranks to feature in the National Group Stage from the Kerala Region. Muthoot FA won eight games to get to 24 points whereas Kerala Blasters FC and Parappur FC made it to the next round courtesy of 19 and 18 points respectively to their name. Muthoot FA and Parappur FC are grouped with Roots FC, FC Goa, and Mighty Young Joe – GMSC for the next leg of games in Kozhikode, whereas Kerala Blasters FC will play their coming set of fixtures in Mumbai.

·         North Region- Punjab FC topped the table with 28 points from 10 games to qualify for the next round, where they will play in Group D in Goa. They were followed by Delhi FC and Sudeva Delhi FC in the standings. Whilst Delhi FC (19) will feature in the games in Delhi, Sudeva Delhi FC (17) will accompany Punjab FC in Goa. Sudeva Delhi FC were the runners-up in the previous edition of the RFDL.

·         Meghalaya-Assam Region- NorthEast United FC are the only team who will play in the National Group Stage from the regionals held in the Meghalaya-Assam zone. The Highlanders won all 10 of their games to get to 30 points as they scored 30 goals and conceded only twice to cap off a resounding outing so far. They are slotted in Group C with East Bengal FC, Delhi FC, Home Missions FC, and Adamas United SA for the National Group Stage and these teams will play their games in Delhi.

·         East Region- The Kolkata giants, i.e. East Bengal FC, Mohun Bagan Super Giant, along with Adamas United SA have qualified for the coming round from the East Region. It was a competitive environment in the Regional Qualifiers here as the Red & Gold Brigade finished with 18 points from 10 games. The Mariners ended up second with 15 points, whereas Adamas United SA qualified with 13 points to their name. East Bengal FC and Adamas United SA will feature in the next stage in Delhi, whereas Mohun Bagan Super Giant are in Group D in Goa.

.         Mumbai Region- Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) are at the top of the standings and have qualified after garnering 28 points from ten games. Following them are Mighty Young Joe – GMSC and Mumbai City FC, who have accumulated 21 and 18 points respectively. RFYC are in Group A and they will compete in the National Group Stage in Mumbai, whereas Mighty Young Joe – GMSC and Mumbai City FC will be playing in Kozhikode and Goa.

Click here to check the Fixture, News and Standing of Reliance Foundation Development league

Also Read: Mohun Bagan SG set the date for League Winners Face-off against Mumbai City FC with a dominant 4-0 win against Bengaluru FC

Also Read: Indian Super League 2023-24 final to be played on May 04

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