Kangchup Road Young Physical and Sports Association FC of Manipur and Gokulam Kerala FC will seek their first title when they face off in the summit clash of the fourth edition of Indian Women’s League in Bengaluru on Friday. Kryphsa FC were denied a date with destiny two years ago, when they lost on penalties to eventual champions Rising Student’s Club in the semi-finals.

Gokulam too had suffered a 2-4 defeat at the hands of Manipur Police at the same stage, a year ago. Having successfully navigated their way to the final this time, both sides will be looking to exorcise their past demons.

Best attack vs defense

The setting could not have been any better, pitting the best defence of this IWL season in Kryphsa against the best offence of the Kerala side. Kryphsa made a clean sweep in the group stages, only to concede a goal against Kenkre at the semi-finals stage. Gokulam, on the other hand, have scored a staggering 28 goals in five games in the group stage, adding three more in the semi-finals against defending champions Sethu FC, taking their tally to 31.

“Scoring an astounding number of goals is not everything. It is also about winning and getting the job done. Come Friday, we will be going all out for the title,” said Kryphsa head coach Chaoba Devi.

“My girls have been together at this club for more than 10 years. We have a good understanding and chemistry amongst ourselves Everyone is fit and ready for the final. We don’t have any injury concerns,” added the coach.

Kryphsa have been a complete package. They have immense defensive solidity through the likes of Sweety Devi, Lilthoingambi Devi and Pakpi Devi. The transition is orchestrated through Anju Tamang and Babysana Devi in the midfield while skipper Dangmei Grace’s vision and Roja Devi’s positional instinct complemented Ratanbala Devi’s lethality.

Kryphsa FC's road to final

Opponents Result
Kickstart FC 4-0
Sethu FC 2-0
Baroda FC 4-0
FC Kolhapur City  1-0
Kenkre FC (semi-finals) 3-1

The Malabarians have settled for a more direct approach, scoring goals galore. Their most emphatic result this season was the 10-1 demolition of semi-finalists Kenkre in the group stages.

Talismanic forward Sabitra Bhandari, a Nepal international, has scored 18 goals in seven games (including qualifiers). But Kryphsa need to be wary of other players also.

Kamala Devi has time and again dropped down to function as the false nine, allowing Bhandari more space to venture forward. The duo have scored an astounding 28 goals between them out of Gokulam’s 31, with skipper Michel Castanha, Kashmina and Grace Hauhnar supplying the goods from the middle of the park.

Umapati Devi and Manisa Panna have made a good pairing at the back, with Indian women’s national team goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan adding her calming presence between the sticks.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to be in the final. The semi-final win against Sethu was not easy, given that they are the defending champions. Getting that result has given us immense confidence,” Gokulam Kerala head coach PV Priya.

“Our three pillars of strength have been youth, experience and unity. We respect Kryphsa but IWL has always been our dream and on Friday, we will leave it all on the pitch. My girls are ready for the challenge,” she added.

Gokulam Kerala's road to final

Opponents Result
Sreebhumi FC 1-0
Kenkre FC 10-1
Odisha FC 7-0
Bangalore United 5-1
Bidesh XI Sports Club  5-0
Sethu FC (semi-finals)  3-0