Hero IWL
Five teams to battle for three remaining quarter-final spots in Group A
11 May 2023

AIFF Media Team

AHMEDABAD: Three places in the knockout stage are still up for grabs on the final day of action in Group A of the 2022-23 Hero Indian Women's League. While Gokulam Kerala are already confirmed as group toppers, five teams - Sports Odisha, HOPS, East Bengal, Mumbai Knights and Misaka United - are separated by just three points, and will battle for the last three berths.

Must-win for Mumbai Knights against Gokulam Kerala

It will be a mountain to climb for Hero IWL debutants Mumbai Knights FC as they take on the mighty Gokulam Kerala FC at the Shahibaug Police Stadium on Friday, May 12, 2023, at 4:30 pm IST.

The Malabarians have nothing to play for but head coach Anthony Andrews aims to maintain the winning momentum. “Our players are in good form and we have a solid strategy in place. We expect them to come out with everything they've got tomorrow, but we will give our best effort to stave off their challenge and secure our quarter-final spot in style.”

For Mumbai Knights, a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter-final. A draw will also be enough for Rutuja Gunwant's side if both East Bengal and Misaka United lose their games.

All to play for in Misaka United versus Sports Odisha

Misaka United and Sports Odisha will battle it out in a do-or-die match in the simultaneous kick-off at the TransStadia at 4:30 pm IST. While Sports Odisha are currently in second with 12 points, Misaka are in sixth, but still very much alive in the competition with nine points.

For the Bengaluru-based side, only a win will keep their qualification hopes alive. It won't be enough though as they will also need East Bengal and Mumbai Knights to fail to win their respective games. Head coach Antony Dias reflected on the mood in the dressing room ahead of the crucial game. "Our preparation has been good. We are focused and know how we want to play to get the full three points. The players are motivated and eager to get on to the pitch," he said.

The qualification scenario is a bit favourable for Sports Odisha as even a defeat will see them through if East Bengal and Mumbai Knights also don't win. However, head coach Paromita Sit urged her side to go all out in the final group stage game as a win will confirm second place. “The girls are motivated after winning the last game against East Bengal. We need to stay focused and positive and go for the win," she said.

East Bengal and HOPS aim to continue IWL run

Earlier at 8 am, it's third against fourth as HOPS FC take on East Bengal FC at the TransStadia. A win for either side will confirm their spots in the quarter-finals.

HOPS have been one of the most impressive debutant sides this season and head into this fixture on the back of three straight clean-sheet victories. Head coach Sanjay Singh opened up ahead of the game and spoke about the team’s preparations. “The confidence of the team has grown with each passing match. The team looks forward to playing a more attacking brand of football while continuing to defend well. The positivity of our mindset will be reflected in our game.”

East Bengal, also playing in the Hero IWL for the first time, saw their four-game unbeaten streak end after conceding a last-minute goal to Sports Odisha on Tuesday. But as things stand, their fate still remains in their hands as three points will seal their quarter-final berth.

Head coach Sujata Kar sounded confident ahead of the big game. “All my players have promised to give a good game and we will win the match.

Kahaani and Mata Rukmani meet in clash of bottom dwellers

In their final game of the season, Kahaani and Mata Rukmani face off against each other at the Shahibaug Police Stadium at 8 am. Both sides have had a tough campaign with no points so far and tomorrow will be the last opportunity for them to bow out with something in their bag.

Kahaani head coach Lalita Saini said on the eve of the game, "The girls are very excited for the final match of the season. We participated in the Hero IWL for the first time. It was a big achievement this year as we had many underprivileged girls getting a chance to play. We want to keep progressing with these girls."

Mata Rukmani head coach Santanu Ghosh too spoke about his side’s preparations for the final game. “The team is ready and prepared for the last game. We have seen good improvement in the girls this season. We are motivated to work even more and come back stronger.”

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