Quite like the recently concluded I-League season, the 2021-22 season of the Indian Women's League has boiled down to the final matchday. The two top sides, Sethu FC and Gokulam Kerala FC, lock horns in a winner-takes-all encounter in the title decider at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, May 26.
The two teams have matched each other for a blow-to-blow so far. Gokulam Kerala currently sit at the top of the league standings with a superior goal difference. Hence, the equation is quite simple for Sethu FC -- win the game and take the title home.
Gokulam Kerala on the hunt for a second consecutive IWL title
The Calicut-based club, like their opponents, have won all of their 10 league matches but have scored 63 goals compared to Sethu FC's 41 so far. Hence, they can afford to settle for a draw in the final encounter.
Ghanaian forward Elshaddai Acheampong has been the leading scorer for the Malabarians with 19 goals from 10 games, including four hat-tricks. The 18-year-old striker will be the centre-piece in Gokulam's quest for a second consecutive IWL title. However, the Malabarians also have a star-studded core Indian line-up at their disposal, with the likes of Manisha Kalyan, Dangmei Grace and Ashalata Devi in their ranks.
Gokulam Kerala head coach Anthony Andrews opened up about his side’s preparations for the final game of the season in a recent chat with the AIFF Media Team.
“It’s an amazing feeling," he said. "The players are pumped up and everybody is looking forward to the match on the 26th. We are going to play the same way we’ve been playing in the last 10 games and stick to our plans.”
Sethu FC eyeing for an opportunity to regain IWL glory
If not for Gokulam Kerala's incredible run, Sethu FC would've been the clear favorites to take home the IWL title. On paper, the Madurai-based club are slightly behind Gokulam's power curve. But football isn't played on paper and no one will know it better than Crispin Chettri, the head coach of Sethu FC.
Speaking about the ultimate clash, Chettri said:
“This season has been very good for Hero IWL. Gokulam Kerala are an experienced side, but we too have experienced players in our team. We also have the advantage of youth; players who will be eager to go into this kind of a match. It’s an opportunity for them to show their potential and character.”
The team from Tamil Nadu has promoted multiple local players and its policy has paved the way for a wholesome growth of women’s football in the state. Leading the line for Sethu has been captain Sandhiya Ranganathan and even against Gokulam, they'll hope that she can weave her magic.
Sethu FC vs Gokulam Kerala: When and where to watch the match
The match between Sethu FC and Gokulam Kerala will be telecast live on Eurosport and can be streamed live on the Indian Football YouTube Channel at 7:30 pm IST.