News  

Sethu FC and Manipur Police set for mouthwatering IWL final clash

Sethu FC's epic journey reaches its final conclusion in Ludhiana on Wednesday when they go to war with a strong side that is Manipur Police Sports Club.

14 teams nationwide entered. Now, only two remain. Guru Nanak Stadium is the venue, the IWL title is the prize, and Sethu FC and Manipur Police Sports Club lock horns with the objective of achieving glory.

History beckons for both sides

The duel between Sethu FC and Manipur Police promises to be a spectacular contest as both teams are attacking sides, that flourish going forward and boast plenty of individual skill and technical ability; it gives this final a real blockbuster billing.

Despite losing their first match at the hands of Sethu, Manipur Police have never looked back from that defeat and carried on with their commitment, firing 37 goals and conceding only four in the following five matches, including a thrilling 4-2 victory over Gokulam Kerala, clinching a place in the final.

On the other hand, Sethu FC have forged a better ruthlessness in front of goal, seeing off all their opponents with ease, scoring as many goals so far this campaign - 42 in total, one better than their final opponent.

The Tamil Nadu team has been unstoppable and often looked supreme this season. They play football with a cutthroat counter that usually leaves teams gutted and breathless.

Amrutha Aravind's women boast immense quality which cannot be ignored. Their style of play works almost against every tough team to grind out impressive result and that's why they are still unbeaten in the tournament.

View from the dugout

Amrutha Aravind has offered high praise for her opponents prior to the game and knows that her players will have to perform appropriately if they are to come out on top.

"Manipur are a good side. They have scored a lot of goals so far. But that does not mean that we will sit back. We also believe in an attacking game. We have worked on our transition from defence to attack. Let's see how that works out tomorrow," said Aravind.

Meanwhile, no stranger to paying against the odds, Surmala Chanu knows from experience that seemingly her side can indeed feasible enough to beat their Wednesday opponent through little more than hard work and a touch of clinical nature.

"In our last match against Sethu, we did not have much of an opportunity to practice together. We had all come together in the last three-four days," said Chanu.

"But that will not happen now. We have played well since then, and we will try to strengthen both our attack and our defence, in order to tackle the Sethu challenge," she added.

What would be more troubling for coach Chanu is the fact that their first choice centre-back Romi Devi is suspended from the final, after she was sent off in the semi-final against Gokulam Kerala for a hand ball on the goalline.

Key Battle: Sabitra Bhandari vs Bala Devi

The final of the Indian Women's League is a battle of key moments; who can take advantage when said opportunities arise?

Who better to have in such moments that Sabitra Bhandari and league's topgoalscorer, Bala Devi. The Manipur striker has 26 goals in six games in the competition, whilst Sabitra impressively has 13, as does teammate Ratanbala Devi with Dangmei Grace trailing slightly behind on eight.

With such importance, however, placed on the goal-scoring exploits of bothBala Devi and Sabitra by their respective teams, they're the two most important players in the final, with the game (in a way) itself touted as a Bala Devi vs Sabitra battle.

What to expect

With Sethu FC carrying so much threat in multiple areas, it is hard for opposing defences to know where to focus their attention and efforts.

Amrutha's women have strong attacking front line in the name of Dangmei Grace, who has been the main provider of goals for the Madurai-based side,now it's undeniable that her strike-Sandhiya and Nepal International Sabitra Bhandari has been just as important in Sethu's tremendous run in the tournament.

The captain Indhumathi has been a great boost to the team in the midfield playing at the highest level possible. Ratanbala has been instrumental for this team, as she has lot of characteristics which aids Sethu's cause in the final third. She is capable of slipping behind the defenders and also, she likes to switch with her winger counterparts, in order to prevent the opponents' back line from having a reference point.

Nepal International Sabitra Bhandari will be the danger woman once again,she is the second highest scorer in the tournament so far, after Bala Devi, who netted whooping 26, but on Wednesday the No.9 looks to add to the 13IWL goals she already has to her name this season.

One of India's best talents in women's football. Bala Devi translated her spectacular form this campaign, spearheading her side into a much deserved final, in which they will start as favourites.

She has been dormitory volcano, she erupted in a spectacular way to score whopping 26 goals in six games. Her athleticism, goal awareness, tactical positioning and speed of thought combined make her a sensational player to watch; if you are still in doubt whether to watch the final or not, Bala Devi should be enough to convince you.