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Indian Women's League (IWL)

Indian Women's League round-up: Odisha FC leading the table at halfway stage

Odisha FC women's team team is leading the league table at the mid-way stage of IWL with 16 points after 6 matches.

Indian Womens League round-up: Odisha FC leading the table at halfway stage

Odisha FC 


Deepanshu Jain

Published: 27 Jan 2024 1:51 PM GMT

The seventh season of the Indian Women's League (IWL), the top division women's professional football league in India, has reached its midway point, with Odisha FC is currently leading the league table with 16 points from 6 matches.

This season marks the first time the IWL is played on a home and away basis, following six editions held at a neutral centralized venue. The league is living up to its billing with many gritty and closely contested matches between the teams.

The league winner will represent India at the 2024–25 AFC Women's Champions League, the first edition of the premier club competition for women's football teams in Asia. The battle for this spot among the seven teams is intense, with three teams still very much in contention for the top position."

Here, The Bridge is looking at the IWL season so far, with the second phase starting from 28th of January:

Unbeaten run for Odisha FC and Kickstart FC

Odisha FC appears to be the clear favorite for the trophy, boasting excellent attacking prowess with Pyari Xaxa and Myanmar's Win Theingi Tun, both having scored three goals each, and receiving solid support from Indumathi Kathiresan on the field. This trio's synergy has resulted in an impressive average goal-scoring run of two goals per match, contributing to Odisha FC's undefeated status, leading the league table with 16 points from 6 matches, including 5 wins and a draw.

Chasing closely, Kickstart FC maintains their own unbeaten streak with 14 points from 6 matches, including 4 wins and 2 draws. Having started the season strong, Kickstart aims to build on last year's performance where they narrowly missed the title in the final against Gokulam Kerala. The return of star player and captain Dalima Chhibber to the starting lineup further boosts their chances. Young talent Karishma Shirvoikar has emerged as a standout with an impressive tally of 6 goals for the team.

Top Scorers race - Karishma leading with 6 goals

The 22-year-old Karishma Shirvoikar has emerged as the leading goal-scorer in the league, netting 6 goals in as many matches. She shoulders the goal-scoring responsibility for her team, contributing to over 60% of her team's goals. Notably, she achieved a hattrick in a match against East Bengal FC, marking the first hattrick of the season. Her impressive form also earned her a comeback to the Indian national team, attributed to her successful stint with the previous club, Gokulam Kerala women's team.

Closely trailing in the golden boot race is Uganda international Fazila Ikwaput, who has scored 5 goals in just 3 matches for Gokulam Kerala. Fazila joined the team during the winter transfer window and quickly made a significant impact. She becomes the second player, following Karishma, to achieve a hattrick this season. Behind these top scorers, four players—Anju Tamang (Gokulam Kerala), Win Theingi Tun (Odisha FC), Pyari Xaxa (Odisha FC), and Kaviya Pakkirisamy (Sethu FC)—are tied with 3 goals each.

Inconsistency for Gokulam Kerala

Three-time defending champion Gokulam Kerala is currently facing challenges, sitting 5 points behind the league leaders in the third position with 11 points (3 wins, 2 draws, and a loss). The absence of Sabitra Bhandari in the attack is evidently affecting the team's performance.

Known for their dominance in women's football in India, Gokulam Kerala's current form raises concerns about their chances in the upcoming Asian Women's Champions League. Despite scoring 13 goals this season, 12 of them have come against the two bottom-placed teams, highlighting their struggles in attack with just one goal in the remaining 4 matches.

As they enter the second phase of the season, Gokulam Kerala aims to regain their form and challenge Odisha FC for the title. The team hopes that new signings like Fazila will step up and fill the void left by their star striker, Sabitra.

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