Gokulam Kerala win big against Mata Rukmani, seal quarter-final spot

AHMEDABAD: Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC maintained their unbeaten record in the Hero Indian Women’s League by sailing past Mata Rukmani FC by 9-0 at the TransStadia in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.

Four goals and another Player of the Match performance from Nepal international forward Sabitra Bhandari, a brace from Indumathi Kathiresan, and a goal each from Sorokhaibam Ranjana Chanu, Dangmei Grace and Hemam Shilky Devi made the Malabarians’ job look easy in the Group A clash today.

Gokulam took an early lead in the fourth minute of the match when Ranjana Chanu’s attempted cross from the left wing was spilled across the goalline by Mata Rukmani goalkeeper Jyotsna Bara. They extended their lead minutes later when the tournament’s top scorer, Sabitra Bhandari, collected a ball down the right flank and burst inside the penalty box with a solo run before scoring past Bara.

The floodgates opened as the defending champions pressed for more goals. Asem Roja Devi released a perfectly-weighted pass to Sabitra as the forward took few touches before slotting past Bara again.

Dangmei Grace made it 4-0 in the 20th minute of the match from Ashalata Devi’s cross from the right flank. Jyotsna Bara fumbled with the initial attempted save and Dangmei pounced on the rebound to nod the ball into the back of the net.

Mata Rukmani struggled to contain Sabitra for her speed throughout the match. She turned provider for Gokulam’s fifth goal this time, laying off a well-timed pass to Hemam Shilky Devi, who had all the time to slot the ball into an empty net. Indumathi Kathiresan made it 6-0 to the Malabarians in the 35th minute. The Indian international combined well with Sabitra at the edge of Mata Rukmani’s penalty box before placing it nicely into the top corner from close range. 

Indumathi scored her second and Gokulam’s seventh of the match minutes before the half-time whistle. Sabitra had to wait until the 68th minute to complete her third hat-trick of the competition after a brilliant link-up play with Kashmina and Soniya Jose at the edge of the penalty box.

Dangmei and Sabitra’s combination on the ball was wreaking havoc on Mata Rukmani’s defence. Both teamed up again for Gokulam’s ninth and final goal in the 69th minute. Dangmei’s well timed pass split the Mata Rukmani defence wide open as Sabitra had it easy slotting it home past Bara at the near post.

Mata Rukmani are languishing in seventh place in the table and are the only team in the competition with no goals to their name so far. Gokulam Kerala sealed their place in the quarter-final with the win and remained at the top of the table with 16 points from six matches. 

Sports Odisha clinch late winner

Sports Odisha edged past East Bengal FC by 2-1 thanks to a last-minute goal from Ritu Devi, in a Group A tie of the Hero Indian Women’s League at the Shahibaug Police Stadium in Ahmedabad on Tuesday morning.

With this win, Sports Odisha climbed above East Bengal to second place in the group, with 12 points in six matches. Nepal forward Rekha Poudel put Sports Odisha in front in the 60th minute but the Red and Gold Brigade responded immediately with a goal from Mousumi Murmu in the 63rd minute. However, Sports Odisha clinched all three points courtesy of Ritu Devi’s 94th-minute strike.

East Bengal remain in the fourth position with 10 points from six matches and their fate in the Hero IWL still hangs in the balance. Despite being on the losing side, Mousumi Murmu of East Bengal was adjudged the Player of the Match for her individual efforts.

Misaka United keep quarter-final hopes alive

Also on Tuesday morning, Misaka United FC registered a quite convincing 6-0 win against Kahaani FC in their Group A clash at the TransStadia.

A first half hat-trick from Kenyan forward, Lucy Kwekwe Jira, who was also named the Player of the Match, and second half goals from Lalrinmuani, Lavanya Upadhyay and Mythili Parvati Vidya were enough for Misaka United win their second game of the season. With this win, the Bengaluru side have kept their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the competition alive. 

They have nine points from six matches and currently sit in sixth place in the table. Kahaani are yet to register a point and are at the bottom of the table.

HOPS make it three wins in a row

HOPS FC bagged an important 2-0 win over Mumbai Knights FC in the last Group A clash of the day at the Shahibaug Police Stadium. With the win, HOPS rose to the third position in Group A with 12 points from six matches. 

16-year-old Neha, who was also adjudged the Player of the Match, put the Delhi side in front in the 23rd minute. It was a well-fought and tight affair for the majority of the game until Rajni Bala came off the bench to seal the victory for HOPS in the second-half injury time.

With this defeat, Mumbai Knights remained on 10 points and slipped to fifth place in the group.With each team only having a game to play, it will be interesting to see who eventually makes it to the knockout stages of this competition from Group A.

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