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IWL Qualifiers: ARA FC make history as the first Gujarat club to break into top division

ARA FC HAVE QUALIFIED for IWL 2021-22, winning the qualifiers after a thrilling 4-3 clash with fellow contenders The Young Welfare Club.

With this, Ahmedabad Racquet Association Football Club have become the first club from Gujarat to play in India's top division league, whether in men's or women's football.

Both ARA and TYWC came into this decider match with 6 points apiece. Although ARA enjoyed superior goal difference, it was ultimately a winner-take-all encounter that took place today at New Delhi's Dr Ambedkar Stadium, with both teams fighting it out till the dying seconds.

It was the Ahmedabad-based side that got a good start, with Shreya Oza, one of the biggest stars to emerge from the IWL Qualifiers, getting a brace within just 16 minutes sending her team 2-0 ahead.

Photo Courtesy - AIFF

But their Imphal-based opponents were not about to give up. Just before the half-hour mark, Salam Rinaroy Devi scored the first goal for TYWC and not long after the second half began, Hoineihat found the long-sought equalizer, making the game 2-2 going into the final half-hour of regulation time.

Neither team let up on the attacks. Just before the 70 minute mark, ARA regained their lead, with Anju finding the net. Not long after, Remo Thokchom came through for TYWC, making it 3-3.

Although a draw was enough for ARA FC to secure qualification to the Indian Women's League, the constant pressure from TYWC made it necessary to create a cushion. Repeated efforts to gain that paid off 87 minutes in, when Kiran scored a decisive goal to put them 4-3 ahead.

The victory came as a massive milestone for the club who entered the national senior football arena less than 4 years ago. This is their first ever foray into women's football, and it has already achieved a historic milestone by earning Gujarat the prestiege of being home to a top division football club.

The team will now head to Bhubaneswar where their IWL campaign as one of the 12 premier clubs in Indian women's football will begin from 15th April. 

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