'Proud of my boys': Muthoot FA coach Anees after beating Bengaluru FC in RFDL

Coach Anees Koraliyadan is proud of his wards for their triumph over Bengaluru FC in the RFDL 3rd place play-off. Muthoot FA beat BFC in the penalties after regulation time saw the game tied at 2-2.

Update: 2024-05-18 02:42 GMT

Muthoot FA players, staff and coach Anees Koraliyadan - wearing a white cap - celebrating their win against Bengaluru in the third-place playoff on May 17, 2024. (Photo credit: Sudipta Biswas/The Bridge) 

Navi Mumbai: Muthoot FA emerged victorious in the third-place playoff against Bengaluru FC in the Reliance Foundation Development League here at the Reliance Corporate Park on Friday.

After a nail-biting regulation time that saw the score tied at 2-2, Muthoot FA prevailed in the penalties 5-4 to get better of the Blue Colts.

Coach Anees Koraliyadan is proud of his wards and the academy for the triumph over the youth team of the Indian Super League (ISL) side.

"I am proud of my team and the academy. We are the only academy team which could make it to the final stage of the tournament. We had a very good run, and this win against Bengaluru FC will motivate my boys to train harder," Anees told The Bridge after the match.

Muthoot FA took Bengaluru FC by surprise in the second minute of the match. They launched an offensive with Muhammad Ashar and Naveen Krishna playing quick passes between themselves on the left before the latter lobbed in a low cross for Salahudheen Adnan K to tap in and get his team the crucial early lead.

Bengaluru FC, however, gathered their steam and drew level, with Monirul Molla's sharp pass rattling the Kochi-based side's defence. Ankith demonstrated terrific efficiency in dispatching the ball into the goal.

The Blues gradually took command of the game, and in the 27th minute, it was Molla again. Operating on the right flank, Molla set up Ankith with a brilliant pass, who grabbed the ball and despite facing a narrow angle poured the ball into the net to put BFC on a 2-1 lead.

As Muthoot FA lost their rhythm, coach Anees said, "The players had become a little lazy after scoring the first goal, we conceded two goals thereafter. But we found the rhythm back after the half-time."

'Have confidence in my boys'

Muthoot FA levelled the score in the 94th minute after rattling the BFC defence from the left flank with a series of attacks. Eventually, substitute Adil Abdulla, with tremendous aerial prowess, jumped in the air to nod the ball in from a scrambled situation following the set-piece.

In the shootout, Muthoot FA trounced Bengaluru FC to emerge winners.

Asked what led to the change after the break, Anees said, "I have had full confidence in my boys. I just wanted the ball on their feet, and they controlled the ball and possession after the break. Then we got the goal though it was a little late."

However, despite the win, he is not happy.

"Especially, in the first half, we were having a lot of difficulties to capitalise the space and we are losing a lot of ball in the attacking third. We also gave a so much space in the mid field to the opponents. Things changed in the second half," he stated.

"We were losing the ball unnecessarily. I told my players to cut down the space for BFC and that was the change they brought into the game in the second half and I wanted the ball always on their feet. We did the job," signed off Anees.

Salahudheen, the highest scorer for Muthoot FA

Midfielder Salahudheen Adnan K, the highest scorer for Muthoot FA in the RFDL with 11 goals and Friday's Man of the Match, said, "The match was tough. But we worked hard and won. Now we hope to go the Next Gen Cup."

Salahudeen joined Muthoot FA two years ago after Anees proposed his name to the management following his impressive display in a university tournament. "But when I joined the academy, I was nursing a groin and hamstring injury. For six months, Muthoot treated me very well. They gave me chance, they trained me and helped me grow in confidence," said the player from Malappuram.

Talking about the goal he scored, Salahudheen, a U23 player in the Muthoot FA set-up, said, "I felt that we would score more goals in the match. But we conceded two instead, but the team worked hard and scored the goal in the injury time to level the score."

A postgraduate in physics from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam is also happy with the experience of playing in the RFDL.

"I played 16 games. I got a lot of experience after playing against ISL teams like Kerala Blasters, FC Goa, East Bengal and now Bengaluru FC. It was challenging but nice expereince," signed off the 22-year-old.

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