Manipur-based KRYPHSA FC reached its maiden Indian Women’s League (IWL) final after a hard-fought 3-1 win over Mumbai’s Kenkre FC in the first semifinal at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Monday.
Ratanbala Devi scored a brace to fire KRYPHSA into a 2-0 lead before Jyoti pulled one back in stunning fashion for Kenkre. Roja Devi added KRYPHSA’s third in the second half, which served as the winner to see her side through.
Coming into the semifinals on the back of a perfect run in the group stage — winning all five of its matches while scoring 15 goals and conceding none — KRYPHSA was the clear favourite.
The team from Manipur wasn’t weighed down by expectations as it got the ball rolling and broke the deadlock early in the 18th minute. Coupled with some questionable defending from Kenkre, Ratanbala Devi made the most of her half-chance, pulling her trigger from the edge of the box as the centre-halves failed to close her down. Ratanbala’s effort gently nestled the bottom right corner to put KRYPHSA ahead by a goal.
Ratanbala Devi added her second in the 38th minute after being played down the left. She kept her nerves and with deft finesse, outsmarted keeper Monika Devi again to allow her side some breathing space.
Much against the run of play, Kenkre pulled one back going into the break, in the 43th minute. KRYPHSA keeper Linthoingambi Devi was yet to collect the ball from the back of the net in this tournament and it took a wonder strike by Jyoti from near the half-way line to catch her by surprise and break her resistance.
The complexion of the game had changed after that goal, with KRYPHSA approaching the game with more caution after the break. The nerves were however settled in the 63rd minute by Roja Devi, who chested down an out-swinging corner on the edge of the box and with a couple of Kenkre shirts closing her down, volleyed it to perfection to restore the two-goal cushion.
Sabitra leads Gokulam to final
Sabitra Bhandari is the leading goal scorer in this season of IWL.
Gokulam Kerala FC reached the final with a stunning 3-0 win in the second semifinal, dethroning defending champion Sethu FC.
Manisha Kalyan broke the deadlock with a brilliant free-kick before Sabitra Bhandari added the second a minute before half-time. The Nepal international sealed Gokulam’s place in the final by adding a third goal late in the second half.
Manisha Kalyan’s wonderful free-kick from about 35 yards from goal went in off the underside of the crossbar to break the deadlock in the 21st minute, thus adding another wonder-strike to the growing inventory of IWL stunners for the season.
Talismanic forward Sabitra Bhandari continued her hot streak in front of goal, adding the second in the 44th minute after a wonderful through-ball from Kamala Devi had put her through on goal.
Bhandari added the third, pouncing onto yet another delightful pass from Kamala Devi. She got away with sheer pace and lethal as ever, made no mistake.
The final between KRYPHSA FC (Manipur) and Gokulam Kerala (Kerala) will take place on Friday (14 February, 2020) at the Bangalore Football Stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 2 PM IST.