Former Premier League champions Leicester City FC’s academy team almost had their hearts in their mouth when the reserve team of Bengaluru FC, former Indian Super League champions themselves, pumped in three goals in seven minutes in their Next Generation Cup, 2022 fixture in Leicester on Wednesday. Leicester City, who had already raced to a six-goal lead won the tie 6-3 but not without Bengaluru FC earning praise from the opponents and Premier League delegates who were witnessing the action from the stands.
Leon McSweeney, Leicester City FC’s academy coach admitted the young Foxes were put under immense pressure from the Indian team.
“Bengaluru made life very tough for us with their energy and intensity. It caused a lot of problems, particularly in the second half. I think they can be very proud of what they showed. And certainly, if we didn’t have the cushion, we would have been a lot more nervous at the end,” said McSweeney.
Bengaluru FC’s Naushad Moosa singled out the biggest positive from the match – invaluable experience.
“After the game, I could hear the boys saying we could have won the game. So, this is what they need to understand,” he said.
Moosa explained how the emerging Bengaluru players overcame their apprehensions of facing a Premier League side gradually into the game, turning the 90 minutes on the pitch into a ‘great learning moment’.
“I felt that they had that fear of playing against Leicester. So, you could see, everyone was down. When they were going for the tackle, they were not giving their hundred percent. In the second half, the team was totally different in the way we were going at them. So, this is what they will have to learn, and this is a very good learning moment,” Moosa said.
McSweeney, a former Leicester City player himself, acknowledged that the Premier League’s partnership with Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) is helping players connect over football and learn about the different cultures, both on and off the pitch.
“I think just the experience in different cultures in terms of football, physicality, the speed of the game, the intensity, and the pressing in the different facets of the game. And particularly for all, that’s as well it works both ways. Our guys experiencing a different cultural style of football against different opposition and having to deal with that and how they can cope because they wouldn’t ordinarily get this type of test if they stay in this country. Having that cultural crossover is important,” the Irishman said.
Bengaluru FC will square off against Nottingham Forest FC’s academy side on Saturday in a 3rd/4th Place Playoff for the Next Gen Midlands Group A.
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