“We want to improve with each passing game”

U18s Head Coach John Kenneth Raj Spoke To Us About His Side’s Perfect Run In The Youth League, Expectations From The Season And The Philosophy He Follows…

His side have barely put a foot wrong in five games in the U18 Youth League. With five wins, 15 points, having scored 23 times and concede just five goals, John Kenneth Raj’s Bengaluru FC U18s sit atop the Karnataka-Andhra Zone and he says its all down to teamwork and a will to be better.

“Every match is against a different opponent and we have been performing well so far, but I still see room for improvement. Some of these boys need to be refined in some situations where they need to understand when to release the ball, when to cross, when to score and when to create space. By the end of this round we’ll try to be much better than we are now,” Kenneth Raj says.

The Blue Colts beat Boca Juniors Football School 6-1 on Monday, and Kenneth Raj believes that after two seasons, his players are constantly reminded that results and performances matter now more than ever.

“We are in the third year of the academy and I always remind my boys about what we have failed to achieve in these two years. We have always shown them videos of how we have played in different matches and how we can get better and that is a gradual process. We want to improve with each passing game,” he adds.

He’s rarely ever in the same building as the club’s first team staff, but Kenneth Raj tells us that the little time he does get with Carles Cuadrat and Gerard Zaragoza is spent talking about the progress of the academy and philosophy.

“I get very few opportunities to meet them, because we are based in Bellary. But whenever I get the time, I watch their training sessions and see what I can do differently. I am also in conversation with Naushad Moosa, who is the Head of Youth Development and get video analysis from Alwin (Lawrence) to see how the first team functions. Keeping that in mind, I train some of the set pieces and you can see that it has helped us because in five games, we’ve scored five goals from set pieces.”

Having been a part of the academy since its inception in 2016, Kenneth Raj has seen the U18s grow from strength to strength with each passing season. “The quality of the players has improved a lot since we began. The players now know that performing in each training session and every game is important for them to make it as professionals. The philosophy that the first team expects us to follow is the one with which we are molding these players, and to get them into the reserves and then into the first team is our main motto.”