GOKULAM KERALA TAKE ON MANIPUR IN A FIERY ENCOUNTER

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AIFF Media Team

 

LUDHIANA: It’s that time of the tournament again! The Group Stage is over, and we are all set for the 2018-19 Hero Indian Women’s League semifinals to get underway at the Guru Nanak Stadium, here on Monday.

 

The first semifinal will be an early kick-off between two sides that have been on prolific goalscoring form so far – Gokulam Kerala FC and Manipur Police SC.

 

Gokulam cruised through their group with a perfect record of five victories from as many matches, scoring 16 and conceding just the one goal. Manipur, on the other hand, have let in eight, but have conversely netted a whopping 37 goals in their five matches.

 

However, Manipur Police did suffer an early hiccup in the Group Stage, when they lost 4-6 against Group II toppers Sethu FC. They seem to have put that defeat well behind them, however, as they went on to post two 10-0 victories against SAI-STC Cuttack and Baroda Football Academy.

 

On that note, let’s take a deeper look into what the two sides have in store for us.

 

GOKULAM KERALA FC: A STAR-STUDDED OUTFIT

 

Gokluam, who are the only club from the Hero I-League or the Hero ISL to field a team in the Hero IWL, have gone all-out to sign some of the top players this season. Captained by India international Dalima Chhibber, the Kerala-based outfit has been as strong as ever so far, this season.

 

“We have set up our team to play good attacking football. We’ve spent time on the drawing board and chalked-out our tacticks against Manipur,” said Gokulam Head Coach Priya PV. “But Manipur are also a very good side. So we are going to defend as a team. We need to defend every zone properly.”

 

The Kerala side has a dynamic system, where they can fluidly shift between a two-pronged attack, to a 4-3-3 formation. The presence of versatile India international Manisha makes this possible for them. While the likes of Naocha Devi and Chhibber hold fort in the middle of the park, Manisha is given the freedom to bomb forward and join Anju Tamang in attack.

 

The 17-year-old is often deployed in the hole behind the striker, even switching positions with Tamang on occasions, or dropping to midfield in order to thwart the opposition. The duo of Manisha and Tamang have been on good scoring form, netting four and five goals, respectively.

 

Gokulam have a stable back-line as well, with the likes of India internationals Michel Castanha and Poli Koley holding the centreback positions, aided by wingbacks Wangkhem Linthoi and U-19 India International Papki Devi, who are all backed-up by the calm and collective keeper Maibam Linthoi.

 

MANIPUR POLICE SC: THE SIDE WITH ALL THE FIREPOWER

 

The side from the North-East has played some great quality football and have been one of the best teams in the tournament so far. Their success has been dependent on the fact that they have played a fluid game, often stretching the opposition defence.

 

“We do not have any set formation per say,” said Manipur Police Head Coach Surmala Chanu. “We are ready to change our formation according to the situation. Depending on how Gokulam play, we can change things around.”

 

Manipur Police, coached by Surmala Chanu, are also a versatile side, that, like Gokulam can shift between a three-pronged to a two-pronged attack. However, it is the presence of Bina Devi in the fullback position, that makes their setup all the more interesting.

 

Left back, can often be pushed into the left midfield position to form a 4-5-2 system, that helps the side from the North-east gain advantage in the middle of the park.

 

Pramodini Devi has done a commendable job in holding the midfield together, allowing the likes of Rinaroy Devi and Prameshwori Devi to bomb ahead. India U-19 international Daya Devi has also played a crucial role for Manipur, often switching between the left wing and the second striker positions.

 

However, it is Bala Devi, who has stolen all the limelight with her outstanding display in front of goal. The 29-year-old has scored a whopping 22 goals in five appearances, and from the looks of it, she does not have any intention of stopping.

Posted on : Sunday May 19, 2019