New Delhi: Gokulam Kerala FC won their first Indian Women's League title as they beat Chaoba Devi's Kryphsa FC 3-2 in a thrilling final at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Friday, February 14.
Both Gokulam and Kryphsa were vying for their first title in the league but it was Gokulam who came out on top even though Kryphsa fought tooth and nail. Kryphsa, who had let in just one goal in their last six games, looked a tad bit more nervous and allowed Gokulam's fiery attack to slam in three and take the title away.
Irom Prameshwori Devi, Kamala Devi and Sabitra Bhandari scored to take Gokulam over the line with the Nepal international scoring the winning third goal.
Quick recap how things unfolded on the pitch today!
— Women's Football India (@WomensFootieIND) February 14, 2020
It was a perfect finale to the IWL 2019-20, which started with a Gokulam goal and ended with one from the winners. Gokulam took the lead in the first minute of the final as Prameshwori found the back of the net off a cross from Sabitra from near the goal line.
That set the pace for the match, which was maintained by both teams for the entirety of the 90 minutes of play. Immediately after conceding their first goal, Kryphsa looked to hit but it was Gokulam who had the next big chance again.
In the sixth minute, Sabitra went through on goal and rippled the net only for the whistle to go off signalling foul by her on the defenders. Sabitra had another shot on goal in the 23rd minute when Kryphsa keeper Linthoingambi Devi got her feet to it and made a solid save.
Two minutes later, Gokulam were awarded a free kick outside the box on the left hand side of the goal and Kamala's attempt on goal went into the back of the net with a slight deflection from Ratanbala Devi's head. Kamala celebrated her goal with much fervour with a gesture towards the dugout.
Ahead of the final, Kamala, in an interview to espn.in, had openly spoken against Chaoba, Kryphsa coach and also the assistant coach of the Indian national team. Kamala, who has not been a part of the national since her relationship with Chaoba and coach Maymol Rocky went awry, has refused to apologise and says she wants to be back in the national only on her merit. She scored 20 goals in the National Championships last year and eight goals in the IWL, along with playing a playmaker role for her team.
— Jeni (@JenishaRani) February 14, 2020
Kryphsa did not sit back and in the 33rd minute, a mistake from Gokulam keeper Aditi Chauhan led to a scramble in the box at the end of which Dangmei Grace found the back of the net with a slight deflection.
Just five minutes later, Ratanbala had a massive chance to equalise when she got to the end of a Grace cross but her massive swing at the ball lacked the correct connection and she missed the chance.
The teams went into the break with the scoreline reading 2-1 in favour of Gokulam.
The second half started with both teams pushing hard for a goal - Gokulam wanted to kill the game while Kryphsa wanted to get on level terms again.
In the 69th minute, Linthoingambi pulled off a stunning save to keep her team in the game when she was one-on-one with Sabitra and was able to tip the ball over the bar.
The anticipation kept growing with each moment in the match and Kryphsa put behind numbers to get the equaliser they badly wanted.
They were rewarded in the 72nd minute when Ratanbala was through on goal and she found the back of the net.
With the match back on level terms, both teams played a few cheap balls in desperate attempts to find the winner.
In the 78th minute, Sabitra stood on a free kick outside the box but her attempt went over the crossbar. A minute later, Grace was very close to scoring her team's third but the ball was blocked just before it could reach her with an open goal in front.
With the minutes dying down, it took a moment of quality from the Gokulam forwards to give them the title. In the 87th minute, Manisha came up with a beautiful pass from the left flank and Sabitra made sure to tap it in.
The Kryohsa shoulder dropped down right then and even though there were minutes left on the clock, the Manipuri side looked short of zeal and Gokulam looked totally on top.
In the 92nd minute, Manisha made a brilliant run forward, cut back but her shot was tipped over by Linthoingambi.
As the final whistle was blown, celebrations broke out in the entire Gokulam dugout and then on the field as Gokulam were crowned the champions of India.
Here are the individual awards given away in the ceremony:
Emerging Player of the Tournament - Manisha Kalyan (Gokulam Kerala FC)
Best Goalkeeper - Linthoingambi Devi (Kryphsa FC)
Most Valuable Player - Ratanbala Devi (Kryphsa FC)
Highest goalscorer - Sabitra Bhandari (Gokulam Kerala FC)