I-League 2023-24: Holders Gokulam Kerala drop points in opening match draw with Sethu FC

Kozhikode: Gokulam Kerala FC’s campaign to win the title fourth time in a row started on a disappointing note as they were held goalless by former champions Sethu FC in the opening match of the Indian Women’s League (IWL) 2023-24 at the EMS Corporation Stadium here on Friday.

On the other hand, Sethu FC coach Kanan Vitthal Priolkar has surely returned to the dressing room a satisfied man. He spoke about his ambition to snatch a point in the away outing and he achieved his purpose successfully, no matter how unspectacular his defensive tactics were.

Sethu, champions in 2018-19, executed their gameplan perfectly but were certainly assisted by the sheer uncertainty displayed by Gokulam, especially at the upfront. Unlike the free-flowing side they were last season, the home side often looked clueless despite having the lion’s share of the exchanges.

Yet the show could have been different—for Gokulam, at least. The likes of Soumya Guguloth, Anju Tamang and Ghanaian Veronica Appiah were clearly the better players, with more imagination and approach to situations. But all their good work went haywire in the attacking third, much to the relief of Sethu defenders.

It wasn’t that the teams didn’t make efforts to attack or create chances within their limitations. While Gokulam showered crosses from both flanks at regular intervals, Sethu did some good work through the left. But then, most of the crosses were either ill-directed or went abegging with no one to take care of them.

Gokulam can claim that some of their key attackers from last year’s side are currently missing from the line-up. It definitely cannot take the credit away from Sethu’s defenders, who stuck to their strategy to take a point home.

It is a good achievement for them, and they can be more ambitious when they host the queens of club football in India in their backyard. This is the inaugural year of home and away games in the IWL; Gokulam must be disappointed to surrender a couple of points on their home turf.



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