The first semifinal of the 2022-23 Indian Women’s League (IWL) took place in Ahmedabad’s TransStadia between Kickstart FC Karnataka and Sethu FC Madurai. Kickstart got here after defeating HOPS 2-1 at the same venue in the quarters. It was also their first time they got this far. Whereas Sethu FC soiled on the legacy of East Bengal in the name of women’s football. The club is experienced on this stage, having won a title already.
Both the sides were placed in Group B. Sethu topped the group with just a point over their future semifinal matchup. The two sides played out a draw on this very venue when they faced each other on Wednesday last week.
The kickoff took place at 5 PM IST. The first chance of the game fell for the team in pink. Misjudgement of a ball from the Kickstart skipper Dalima Chhibber set up the first oppurtunity for Sethu. The cross from the left was skied past the crossbar by Apurna Narzary.
The poor treatment of a deep ball from Banti Sharma opened the scoring in the semifinal. Under Kioko Elizabeth’s pressure, Madurai nicked the ball past her own keeper to give her opponents a lead in the 11th minute.
Two consecutive corner deliveries from Banti led to consecutive chances at goal which Sethu defenders were able to keep out.
IWL’s Indian top scorer Kajol D’Souza rattled the crossbar in the 42nd minute. The rebound fell kindly to Sumati Kumari but she took none of it. It was a nicely tailored move from the midfield. Priyangka Devi was again in the mix of the things when her shot hit the base of the woodwork.
Saru Limbu gave the Karnataka side a 2-0 lead right at the end of the first half. The Nepali midfielder had a plenty of space in the midfield to calculate all the possible outcomes. She took a shot from far out and no Sethu player had an answer to it. The positive momentum gained by the Madurai side was undone by that spectacular goal.
The second half started with a turned-down penalty appeal from the Sethu FC camp. Banti was accused of a handball inside the box but the referee ignored it.
After a dry spell, Sumati outmuscled Omaka but her grounded left-footer was just whiskers away from the far post.
This win is one of the biggest wins in Kickstart’s six year experience. They have set up a final clash with the double defending champions Gokulam Kerala – for probably their biggest game in existence. The final will be played on Sunday at the TransStadia.
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