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.
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 champion has 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.
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.
Kickstart was 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 is heavyweight Gokulam Kerala, and it promises to be a blockbuster of a clash.
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