The Gokulam Kerala FC Women’s team defeated Bangkok FC 4-3 to wrap up their 2023 AFC Women’s Club Championship. The Malabarians won the Indian Women’s League, thus enabling them to qualify for the tournament. They competed in the tournament’s 2021 edition as well, finishing third in the group stage. They were devastated when the squad was disqualified the previous year due to FIFA’s ban on India. With four points from three games, they managed to finish second in the group, which would have pleased coach Antony Andrews. Urawa Red Diamonds will now face Hyundai Steel Red Angels in the final.
Urawa Red Diamonds 8-0 Gokulam Kerala FC
Gokulam Kerala FC’s campaign began with a crushing 8-0 loss against Urawa Red Diamonds, the Japan League winners. Given that the opponent included four players who competed for Japan in the recently concluded 2023 World Cup, this game was always going to be difficult. The first goal was scored by Hanae Shibata in the second minute, and the Malabarians were immediately behind. At the end of the first half, Gokulam Kerala FC was down three goals to nil. Things only went worse from there, as they ended up losing the game 8-0 after conceding five goals in the second half. This was indeed Gokulam Kerala’s worst loss in the history of the team.
Gokulam Kerala FC 1-1 Hualien FC
The Malabarians and Hualien FC drew 1-1 in the second match. One change was made to the team that lost to Urawa Red Diamonds by head coach Antony Andrews. Soumya Guguloth was replaced by Sumati Kumari. Sumati’s header gave Gokulam the lead in the 19th minute. However, they conceded right before halftime, meaning that the scores were tied at the halfway point. After Jhuo Li-shan was given a red card, Hualien FC was reduced to 10 players around the hour mark. The Malabarians had the numerical advantage for the final 30 minutes of play, but they were unable to secure a victory and had to split the spoils.
Bangkok FC 3-4 Gokulam Kerala FC
Gokulam Kerala defeated Bangkok FC with a dramatic 4-3 victory in the final game of the group stage. This was Gokulam’s second win in the AFC Women’s Club Championship; the first came in the 2021 edition against Bunyodkor FC. Gokulam Kerala conceded in the 26th minute and was already down in the first half. After Iranian attacker Hajar Dabbaghi leveled the score in the 45th minute, the team once again conceded a minute later. The score at the half-time was 2-1 against the Malabarians.
Ghanaian forward Veronica Appiah equalized for Gokulam a few minutes into the second half. However, they gave up straight away in the 49th minute, trailing in the match yet again. While Bangkok FC was hoping to take home all three points, Veronica completed the team’s comeback and her hat trick scoring two in three minutes. Gokulam improved their 2021 edition score of three points to four points with this win, placing them second in the group.
Follow IFTWC for the latest updates on Indian Football.