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Indian Women's League (IWL)

IWL: East Bengal search for first win as top four race intensifies in Group A

After the 8-2 loss to Gokulam Kerala, debutants East Bengal will look to mend their ways and open their accounts in the IWL 2023.

IWL: East Bengal search for first win as top four race intensifies in Group A
East Bengal's women's team in training. (Source: East Bengal)

The Bridge Desk

Published: 28 April 2023 4:41 PM GMT

After making a solid start to the Hero Indian Women’s League 2023 season, reigning champions Gokulam Kerala will face off against Sports Odisha at the TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, April 29.

The Malabarians put eight goals past debutants East Bengal FC in the opening game and are in good momentum ahead of their second match of the campaign. Speaking about the mood in the dressing room, head coach Anthony Andrews mentioned, “I am incredibly proud of the team's performance in the previous game and we aim to take the positives forward.”

He went on to add, “We executed our game plan well and the players showed excellent teamwork and discipline. We will work on maintaining our momentum and building on our strengths in the upcoming matches.”

However, Andrews is wary of the challenge that Sports Odisha will bring to the table and insisted that his side won’t take their opponents lightly. “We respect all our opponents and prepare for every game with the same intensity and focus.

Sports Odisha is a strong team, and we are aware of its capabilities. We have analysed their strengths and weaknesses and prepared a game plan accordingly,” he concluded.

On the other hand, Sports Odisha, too, bagged a thrilling 3-2 win over HOPS FC in their opening game of the season on Wednesday. The team will be looking to build on their positives as they progress into further matches.

Head coach Paromita Sit discussed her side’s preparations ahead of the game against Gokulam Kerala. She quoted, “Gokulam were the winners last season and they are a very strong side, but our preparations have been good. We respect our opponents and will try our best to win the game.”

She went on to add that the young side is hungry to prove their calibre and will go all out against the defending champions. “The young players are confident enough to prove themselves and this is the biggest platform where they can show their talent,” the head coach added at the end.

HOPS FC vs Misaka United FC

Elsewhere, HOPS FC, who succumbed to defeat in their first game of the Hero IWL season against Sports Odisha will look to bounce back when they face Misaka United next. Head Coach Sanjay Singh said, “We will try to dominate the ball possession to add numbers in the attack. We need to have trust in the depth of the squad in order to make it to the top of the pool.”

Misaka United, on the other hand, will be looking to build on the momentum after their 2-0 win over Mata Rukmani in the previous game. “We are keen to improve our finishing as we did have ball possession in the first game but failed to convert it. So finishing is something that we are focusing on and also, to be more confident on the ball,” said Antony Dias as he urged his side to bank on the positives from the first game.

East Bengal FC vs Kahaani FC

After a disappointing start to the Hero IWL season with a heavy 2-8 loss against Gokulam Kerala, debutants East Bengal will be looking to prove a point against Kahaani FC at the Shahibaug Police Stadium on Saturday.

Expressing her thoughts ahead of the second game, Head Coach Sujata Kar stated, “We have practiced focusing on the mistakes we made in the first match so that those are not repeated in the upcoming game. We will never underestimate the opponents and show our good game.”

Adding to her testimony, Kahaani head coach Lalita Saini said, “We know that we have lost our first match (against Mumbai Knights) and East Bengal too lost theirs. So the next match is going to be very competitive and we want to win it in any condition.”

Mumbai Knights vs Mata Rukmani FC

Another interesting fixture awaits Shahibaug Police Stadium when Mumbai Knights take on Mata Rukmani. The former picked up a narrow 1-0 win over Kahaani in their opening fixture and will be confident ahead of the next match.

Head coach Rutuja Gunwant reflected on her side’s preparations saying, “As the debutants of Hero IWL, we are happy with the first win. The players are motivated and confident. But we still have a long way to go. We have worked upon some areas of improvement to face Mata Rukmani which is a good side having IWL experience and few young talents.”

Further, Mata Rukmani head coach Shantanu Ghosh also explained how his side is planning to change things after the loss in the first game. “We have analysed our previous game and have worked on it. We are always focused on the next game. We know our strengths. No matter the opponent, our objective remains the same, to get the best out of each game. The team is ready and prepared for tomorrow.”

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