Kozhikode (Kerala), Jan 6: Defending champions Gokulam Kerala FC maintained their chances of winning the title again as they thrashed Sports Odisha 8-0 in the Indian Women's League (IWL) 2023-24 at the EMS Corporation Stadium on Saturday.
Though not displaying a similar class and dominance as they did in the previous seasons, Gokulam are very much in contention in the current edition with seven points from four matches, having won two, lost one and drawn one. The big win on Saturday will certainly bolster their claim as they recovered from an indifferent start to their 2023-24 campaign.
Sports Odisha, on the other hand, seem completely out of their depth in the IWL 2023–24; they are without a point in their kitty after four matches. So far, they have conceded 16 goals and could score only once. The hapless Sports Odisha defence had no answer against the Gokulam onslaught as the Kerala outfit led 6-0 at half-time.
The home side tormented their opponents with relentless attacks and once they scored their first goal in the fourth minute through Sandhiya Ranganathan, the match virtually turned into one-way traffic deep into the Sports Odisha area.
Packed with international players in their ranks, Gokulam took only eight more minutes to find the target for the second time. A rather innocuous corner kick turned dangerous when Sports Odisha defenders fumbled to clear the ball and experienced Anju Tamang made the most of it by tapping over the goalline from close range.
Thereafter, Gokulam simply toyed with their opponents, scoring almost at will. Starting in the 23rd minute, the winners scored four goals within 21 minutes, with Soumya Guguloth, Asem Roja Devi and Ugandan striker Fazila Ikwaput (2) finding the target. One goal by the Ugandan girl truly exposed the chinks in the Sports Odisha defence as she moved in almost unchallenged before shooting home without any resistance.
After netting half a dozen times in the first session, Gokulam could score only twice in the second half, with both Soumya and Anju Tamang picking up their second goals of the match.
If the Sports Odisha defence could take credit for managing to keep their rampaging rivals under check, then the apparent lack of motivation among the Gokulam attackers to probe further cannot be ruled out either. It was a total mismatch, and the Kerala side registered the biggest victory margin of the season so far -– they perhaps chose to relax after a stormy first half. (IANS)