Kickstart FC Karnataka fell against Gokulam Kerala FC

Football

Gokulam Kerala defeated Kickstart FC Karnataka 5-0 in the final to win the Hero Indian Women’s League for the third consecutive year. And perhaps even a league that was played to their strengths. The women of Gokulam Kerala set the standard for women’s football in India with a commanding performance at the TransStadia. That served as both a demonstration of their brilliance and a warning of how far behind their competitors they are.

However, any discussion of benchmarks must start and finish with Sabitra Bhandari. The Nepalese striker who is now without a goal. And who has in just one season surpassed all of her previous scoring records. Bala Devi’s record for a single season was surpassed by Bhandari in the semi-finals, and in the final. She extended it even further (29), into territory where it could be very challenging to overtake. Bhandari was already the best scorer in Hero IWL history.

The way the first goal was achieved ought to have been a warning for everything that was to come. Dangmei Grace danced around a sluggish Kickstart midfield in the fifth minute to unleash Bhandari into space on the right of the goal. Dangmei Grace glided around a sluggish Kickstart midfield in the fifth minute to send Bhandari into space on the right side of the box after Gokulam had immediately grabbed possession of the ball. With a defender boxing her in, the threat of a goal was nonexistent, but more crucially, so were the angle and the distance.

Gokulam Kerala FC the winner of IWL

When “Samba” is on the ball, none of that has ever mattered, and she once again demonstrated this. launching itself almost entirely to the right of the box, towards the direction of the far post. The frantic dive of Maibam Linthoingambi was in vain. Gokulam had a lead, and they never turned around.

From there, it was a question of who could outperform who within the Gokulam team. Sandhiya Ranganathan received a pass on the Gokulam right and drove into the box in the 22nd minute. She ducked once she was inside, catching Linthoi off guard as she was anticipating a cutback, and then blasted through at the near post to double her team’s lead. Gokulam led Kickstart by two goals by the time Kickstart attempted their first goal. A careless handball in the box gave Gokulam a penalty, and soon it was three. Kathiresan did not miss, Indumathi.

Kickstart trailed by three goals at halftime, with their spirits and egos likely suffering more damage than anything else. Their six clean sheets were the most of any team in the league, making them the team with a virtually impenetrable defence. However, they had already let up as many goals in the first half of the match against the unstoppable might of Gokulam as they had in the eight games before.

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In the 47th minute, Wangkhem Linthoigambi’s piledriver for Kickstart gave them their first attempt on goal of the second half. However, Gokulam scored again five minutes later, and Bhandari was once more at the epicentre of the action. The striker received the ball on the Kickstart box’s left side, feinted to move in one direction, and then quickly turned her hips to move in the opposite direction, leaving Dalima Chhibber in her trail. Sandhiya got to her feet to head in her perfectly formed cross.

Long before the fourth, the game had devolved into an attack vs. defensive procession, but after that, any semblance of a contest vanished. In the 80th minute, Roja Devi added a fifth goal, and Gokulam easily won its third championship in three years.

The awards were given out by AIFF President Mr. Kalyan Chaubey.

PERSONAL AWARDS

Astam Oraon was named the season’s top prospect.

Maibam Linthoingambi Devi is the best custodian.

Sabitra Bhandari has scored the most goals.

K Ngopawdi is the best defender.

Indumathi Kathiresan is the League’s champion.

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