IN A BATTLE between a vigorous attack and a relentless defence, Gokulam Kerala FC got off to a winning start in a highly contested match against Sreebhumi FC in a Group B encounter of the Indian Women's League 2019-20 today.
Rumpa Malik, the goalkeeper of Sreebhumi, emerged as the central character of this dramatic encounter as she made one save after another to fend off the mighty GKFC attack filled with internationals, and kept the scorelines level for most of the game; but unfortunately it was her own error that led to the only goal of the match.
When GKFC named a 4-2-4 starting line-up, it was clear they wanted fireworks against the IWL final round debutants. From the get go, the action was mostly restricted to the Sreebhumi half. GKFC attackers like Sabitra Bhandari, Kamala Devi ran rampage as the Malabarians moved up in numbers, leaving Sreebhumi on a perpetual defensive posture often defending with ten women. Although enough chances were created, the match remained goalless in the first half; mostly thanks to Rumpa Malik's saves.
But not long into the second half, the deadlock was broken when Rumpa failed to judge an incoming cross; leaving the ball open to Nepali striker Sabitra Bhandari for an easy conversion. The solitary goal was enough to win the match for GKFC.
Watch the whole of this exciting match-up right here courtesy the Indian football team's Facebook page.
Three points are a solid start for Gokulam Kerala FC, who have a team filled with star players like Aditi Chauhan, Manisha Panna, Yumnam Kamala Devi, Manisha Kalyan and Sabitra Bhandari. They are being considered as one of the favourites in the league. But Sreebhumi FC, who had clearly adjusted their strategy with the intention of neutralizing the opponents' attack, have shown considerable heart and may prove to be a strong contender in the IWL 2019-20 group stages.
On 28th January, Gokulam Kerala FC will play their next match against Kenkre FC; who also got off on a winning note besting Odisha Police by a 4-1 margin. The match is likely to be an early encounter between two of the top teams in Group B. Sreebhumi, meanwhile, will take to the pitch again on 29th January, facing Bidesh XI Sports Club, who lost to Bangalore United FC earlier on Sunday.