IWL 2022: Kickstart FC trump PIFA FC on the opening day as Nirmala Devi stars with a wonder strike

Kickstart FC players celebrating their goal against PIFA FC. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/IndianFootball)
Kickstart FC players celebrating their goal against PIFA FC. (Image Courtesy: Twitter/IndianFootball)

The opening day of the Indian Women's League 2022 season witnessed Bengaluru-based Kickstart FC bettering PIFA FC on all fronts at the Capital Ground, Odisha on Friday.

The game was a cagey affair, with both sides battling for control of the midfield. However, PIFA FC, trying to build from the back, enjoyed an early phase of domination. They had their first glorious opportunity of the half when Nisilia Majaw found herself through on goal in the seventh minute.

However, her shot was blocked by Kickstart FC defender Pakpi Devi. The rebound fell kindly for Karen Pais but her effort was also blocked by a PIFA player. As the minutes rolled by, the Bengaluru-based side found their feet in the game.

In the 14th minute, Prameshwori Devi darted down the left flank but her low shot was saved cleanly by PIFA FC keeper Anjali Barke.

From that moment, the momentum shifted completely towards the Karantaka club. Finally, in the 24th minute, they broke the deadlock through a stunning long-range strike from Nirmala Devi.

The 19-year-old center-back unleashed a wicked effort from almost 30 yards out and the ball dipped dramatically to leave the PIFA FC shot-stopper completely helpless.

Even after bagging the lead, the Bengaluru club carried on with their charge forward. In the 32nd minute, they doubled their lead. Roja Devi went on a mazy run down the left and cut the ball back for Prameshwori. The veteran forward expertly controlled the ball on the turn and unleashed a right-footed shot. The ball kissed the left post and went into the back of the net.

PIFA FC struck back immediately after conceding. Iawanlang Nongbet carried the ball into the opposition half down the right channel and drilled a low cross into the box. Nisilia Majaw, unmarked in the box, calmly slotted the ball home to reduce the deficit.

Although PIFA scored against the run of play, KSFC carried on with their dominant brand of football deep into the first half.

Kickstart FC capitalizes on PIFA FC's passing errors

The first half showcased the vulnerability of the PIFA FC backline. Coming out after the break, Kickstart FC continued knocking on the door. Head coach Amrutha Aravind Valliyath continued to urge her players to be on the front foot, sensing the possibility of doubling their lead.

Kickstart FC had an early opportunity in the second half when Prameshwori was through on goal but her effort was gallantly blocked by a PIFA defender. In the 59th minute, the Mumbai-based club went down by two goals owing to their own folly.

KSFC won a free kick deep on the left flank and Nirmala Devi sent the ball into the box. The PIFA shot-stopper completely mishandled the ball and it fell for Kaviya, who tucked it into an open net.

Nirvan Jagdish Shah's girls continued with their conservative build-up approach but their failure to retain possession of the ball cost them dearly. PIFA FC failed to create an opportunity of note for most of the half. Lalnunsiami, though, had a half-chance fall her way in the 79th minute before Kickstart FC's Sweety Devi stepped in with a crucial tackle.

Meanwhile, in another Indian Women's League match, SSB Women FC, after going down by two goals, rallied back to register an emphatic 6-2 victory over Hans Women FC. Skipper Dular Marandi registered a brace for the West Bengal club at the 7th Battalion Ground.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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