Gokulam Kerala FC will take on Manipur Police in the semi-final of the Indian Women's League (IWL) at the Guru Nanak Stadium here on May 20.
Gokulam cruised through with a perfect record of five victories from as many matches, scoring 16 and conceding just one goal. On the other hand, Manipur let in eight, but have conversely netted a whopping 37 goals in their five matches.
However, Manipur 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 as they went on to post two 10-0 victories against SAI-STC Cuttack and Baroda Football Academy respectively.
Gokulam, who are the only club from the I-League or ISL to field a team in the IWL, had signed some of the top players this season. Captained by India international Dalima Chhibber, the Kerala-based outfit has been as strong as ever this season.
"We've set up our team to play good attacking football. We've spent time on the drawing board and chalked-out our tactics against Manipur. But Manipur are also a very good side. So we are going to defend as a team. We need to defend every zone properly," Gokulam Head Coach Priya PV said.
The Kerala side is further boosted by the presence of versatile India international Manisha. With the likes of midfielders Naocha Devi and Chhibber, Manisha is given the freedom to bomb forward and join Anju Tamang in the attack.
Gokulam even have a stable back-line 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 goalkeeper Maibam Linthoi.
Meanwhile, Manipur has played some great quality football and have been one of the best teams in the tournament so far.
"We don't have any set formation per se. We're ready to change our formation according to the situation. Depending on how Gokulam plays, we can change things around," Manipur Head Coach Surmala Chanu said.
Just like Gokulam, Manipur are also a versatile side who can shift between a three-pronged to a two-pronged attack. It is the presence of Bina Devi in fullback position that makes their setup all the more interesting. Bina has stolen all the limelight with her outstanding display, scoring 22 goals in five appearances.
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, switching between the left wing and the second striker positions.
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