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Indian Women's League (IWL)

Kickstart FC hopes to give Karnataka first IWL title

The Karnataka based club will face defending champions Gokulam Kerala in the Indian Women's League 2023 final.

Kickstart FC hopes to give Karnataka first IWL title

It's Kickstart FC v/s Gokulam Kerala in the IWL 2023 final. (Source: AIFF)


The Bridge Desk

Published: 20 May 2023 5:41 PM GMT

A gripping finale in this season's Hero Indian Women’s League awaits as Kickstart FC and Gokulam Kerala FC gear up to face each other in the summit clash of the tournament's sixth edition at the TransStadia on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at 6:00 pm IST. The final will be streamed live on the Indian Football YouTube channel.

The 2022-23 Hero IWL started off last month with 16 teams, the highest number in the league's history, and now only two remain after 62 rigorous matches.

The two sides are heading into the final on the back of jubilant semi-final wins on Friday evening. While Kickstart surpassed a strong Sethu challenge 2-0, Gokulam Kerala came from a goal down to register a thumping 5-1 win over Eastern Sporting Union.

The Malabarians are now just one win away from their third consecutive Hero IWL crown and will be aiming to continue their dominance.

Expressing his thoughts ahead of the match, head coach Anthony Andrews quoted, “I anticipate a tough challenge from Kickstart in the final. They have shown their strength by defeating former champions Sethu in the semi-final, which indicates that they are in good momentum. We expect a competitive match. We need to be prepared for their attacking ability and defensive solidity to ensure we can overcome their challenge.”

The reigning champions have been in fine form throughout the campaign. With some of the most experienced stalwarts in their ranks like Ashalata Devi, Indumathi Kathiresan, Dangmei Grace and goal machine Sabitra Bhandari, they have established a formidable core of the team.

Revealing the atmosphere in the dressing room, Andrews added, “The mood in the dressing room ahead of the big game is fantastic. There's a sense of excitement and determination among the players. We have worked extremely hard to reach the final and everyone is aware of the importance of this match. We are all looking forward to the final and are confident in our abilities to perform at our best."

On the other hand, Kickstart created history by reaching their maiden Hero IWL final. Led by skipper Dalima Chhibber, the team have delivered a memorable campaign so far, finishing second in Group B before dispatching HOPS 2-1 in the quarter-final. In what was supposed to be a too-close-to-call semi-final, Kickstart secured a convincing 2-0 win over Sethu.

First-half goals from Kenya forward Kioko Elizabeth Katungwa and Nepal midfielder Saru Limbu had them in the driving seat at the break, before they went on to keep Sethu at bay with some solid defending in the second half.

Kickstart were placed third in the Hero IWL last season, and ahead of this campaign, head coach Langam Chaoba Devi had affirmed that her side will not just aim for another podium finish, but the top prize. Standing between Kickstart and history are heavyweights Gokulam Kerala, and it promises to be a blockbuster of a clash at the TransStadia on Sunday evening.

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