With only three goals conceded throughout the tournament and six clean sheets in total, Kickstart FC Karnataka were the best defensive side going into the Indian Women’s League (IWL) Final. But Gokulam Kerala FC are a fearsome attacking unit when it comes to Women’s Football. They had scored the most number of goals in the competition and have been a league apart.
Which they showed on Sunday evening at the TransStadia, Ahmedabad. Anthony Andrews’ side, spearheaded by Nepal’s Sabitra Bhandari, were gunning to complete the three-peat since the beginning.
It was Sabitra who started the scoring spree with a belter in the fifth minute. She gathered the ball and struck it across the goalkeeper from outside the box. A banger of this stature this early would have crumbled them down for a team that was appearing in their first final.
Beating her woman, Sandhiya Ranganathan had plenty of space but not as many options to play to. She decided to take a shot herself. Poor goalkeeping basics yielded a 2-0 lead. At this point, the clock had just clocked 20 minutes. Kickstart FC had a long evening ahead.
Bhandari’s free header in the 27th minute was just whiskers away from the goalkeeper’s right post. Gokulam were awarded a penalty for a genuine shout for Dalima Chhibber’s handball. Indumathi Kathiresan made no mistake converting it.
Bhandari again came close to scoring her second with seconds left in the first half. It once again strolled past the far post.
The first major action of the second half was Wangkhem L Devi’s attempt on ‘that‘ Ronnie Radford’s goal. However, it was tipped out by Beatrice Nketia.
Gokulam forwards were all over Chhibber during the game. Bhandari did her impression of a Cruyff turn to completely deceive the opposition captain. She played in a beautiful cross which Sandhiya headed in. Bhandari once again did an impressive move to nutmeg Chhibber to, this time, shoot herself. Goalkeeper Maibam Lingthoingambi Devi stopped it.
The IWL Golden Boot winner didn’t get her second goal of the game but she set up Roja Devi for her fourth goal of the season. Roja was a Kickstart player last season, scoring six goals in eleven games.
Indumathi named Hero of the IWL
With nine goals in eight games from the midfield, Indumathi was named Hero of the Tournament on Sunday. Kickstart’s goalkeeper Maibam L Devi was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Sethu’s Astam Oram was adjudged the Emerging Player of the Tournament.
Follow our website for more on Indian Football!