Defending champion Sethu FC takes on FC Kolhapur on the opening day of the Hero Indian Women’s League football tournament, at Bangalore Football Stadium here on Friday.
India international Ashalata Devi and Nepal midfielder Anita Basnet are the key players for Sethu FC. Amrutha Arvind, Sethu FC coach, named Gokulam Kerala FC, FC Kolhapur and Manipur club Kryphsa FC as the main rivals.
“We did not get much time for preparation as many of our girls were competing in the Khelo India Youth Games, but we are confident of a good show,” Amrutha said at a press conference here on Thursday.
Kickstart FC and Bangalore United FC are the two home teams in the field. Kickstart FC assistant coach K. Kalidasan stated that the home clubs have an advantage as they have adequate match experience with the tough artificial turf at Bangalore Football Stadium.
The turf was due to be relaid, but the work has since been postponed.
Sunando Dhar, I-League CEO, stated here on Thursday that while it would have been ideal for the marquee women’s tournament to be played on a new turf, the current conditions are “not unplayable”.
India women’s football team coach Maymol Rocky said that she will use the IWL to scout talented young players.
“Tournaments like this will give us a bigger pool of players for selection. I’m hoping to find young talent for our preparations for the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup to be hosted by India,” Maymol said.
Twelve teams, split into two groups, will vie for the top prize in this three-week tournament. The two best sides from each group will qualify for the semifinal round. A total prize money of 10 lakh is on offer.
All matches will be streamed live on the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Facebook page. Two league matches will be held in a day, with noon and 3 p.m. kickoffs.
Group A: Kickstart FC, FC Kolhapur, Kryphsa FC, BBK DAV FC, Sethu FC, Baroda FC
Group B: Kenkre FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Odisha Police, Bangalore United FC, Sreebhumi FC, Bidesh XI SC
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