IWL kicks off today in Bengaluru

IWL kicks off today in City

The fourth edition of the Hero Indian Women’s League will kick off at the Bangalore Football Stadium with Kryphsa FC taking on Kickstart FC Karnataka on Friday.

The tournament features 12 teams which are divided into two groups. Group A consists of Kickstart, FC Kolhapur, Kryphsa FC, BBK Dav FC, Baroda FA and defending champions Sethu FC while  Group B has Kenkre FC, Gokulam Kerala FC, Odisha Police, Bangaluru United FC, Sreebhumi FC and Bidesh XI Sports Club.

The top two teams from each group will play in the semifinals followed by the final on February 25. There will be two games held per day with the early kickoff at 12.00 noon followed by the second one at 3.00 pm. All matches of the IWL, which has an overall cash prize of Rs 20 lakh, will be streamed live at the Indian Football team’s official Facebook page.

Speaking at the unveiling of IWL’s ever-rolling trophy, Sunando Dhar, CEO, Leagues from AIFF, revealed that this tournament will be used to scout players for the national team and also for the U-17 team, who are set to play the World Cup at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, defending champions Sethu FC head coach Amrutha Aravind revealed that her side was ready to defend the title. 

“Team is balanced. Preparation time was a bit less this year (than last year) with Khelo India going on. Tamil Nadu qualifiers also happened last month only,” said the coach picking Kryphsa and Gokulam as teams to watch. Loitongbam Ashalata Devi, nominated for the AFC Player of the Year, will lead the team.

Home teams - Kickstart and Bangalore United - are also hoping for a good show.

“We are the home team and so we are expecting a lot of home support,” said Kickstart’s assistant coach Kalidasan.

“We have had good preparations this time and are ready to face the challenge. We definitely want to qualify for knockouts,” said Chithra Gangadharan, BUFC coach.

Questions over turf

There were also questions raised regarding the condition of the turf at the stadium with various coaches admitting the turf was less than ideal. Dhar, too, echoed same sentiments.

“We would have been happier with a newer pitch. It’s not (in an)unplayable condition. We are given to understand that a new turf will be put up soon and that will help them host new events. Like one of the youth league final rounds can be held in Bengaluru,” he said.

Meanwhile, Karnataka State Football Association, remarked that the relaying of the turf had to be postponed due to the tournament and FC Bengaluru United using the stadium as their home venue for the Second Division League.

“Tender has been finalised. After this, one club (FC Bengaluru United) is playing their Second Division matches till March 30. So after that, the turf will be relaid,” said R Satyanarayanan, Secretary of the KSFA. The kickoff at 12.00 pm also remains a concern but Dhar remarked that with the floodlights not being good enough, this was the better option.

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