As the Indian Women's League 2023 group stage approaches its business end, Group B leaders Sethu FC head a crucial clash against second-placed Kickstart FC Karnataka at the TransStadia, here on Wednesday.
The two sides have both had a positive campaign so far. While Tamil Nadu-based Sethu Madurai are placed on top of the table with 15 points, Kickstart find themselves right below them with 12 points.
Sethu are assured of a place in the quarter-finals and when asked about the targets for the final two group stage games, head coach Joseph Naik said,"All of us are working very hard in each training session. We keep pushing each other forward to be better players, not just on the field but also off it."
"Our focus has been the same. To play good football and play as a team," he added.
Kickstart, on the other hand, will be looking to grab all three points to overtake Sethu as group leaders and ensure a place in the knockouts. The Bengaluru-based side arrive into this fixture on the back of a four-game winning streak since losing to Eastern Sporting Union on their first outing.
Following Wednesday's match, Kickstart will play their final group-stage clash against Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on May 13.
Odisha resume hunt for top place
The other big guns from Group B, Odisha FC take on seventh-placed Celtic Queens FC in their penultimate IWL group stage fixture in the simultaneous kick-off at the Shahibaug Police Stadium.
The Bhubaneswar side have accumulated 12 points from five games so far and are placed third on the table. A win tomorrow will guarantee them a spot in the quarter-finals of the competition.
"Our target is to win both our remaining group matches and be in the top two positions. Depending upon other match results, we will try to secure our position at the top of the league table. Our team has a positive mentality and we are well-prepared for tomorrow's game," said head coach Crispin Chettri, on the eve of the match.
On the contrary, Puducherry-based Celtic Queens are yet to register a win and will be looking to bow out of the competition on a positive note.
"The girls are enjoying the experience and the challenge. Every game is a fresh one for us, with no past thoughts or pressure. Our target would be to finish both matches on a winning note," stated head coach Nitesh Sharma.
Do-or-die affair for CRPF and Eastern Sporting Union
A crucial clash awaits the TransStadia when CRPF and Eastern Sporting Union lock horns on Wednesday. The two sides are fighting for a place in the Group B top four and the result of their game could potentially decide which side makes it through.
Ahead of the match, CRPF head coach Uttam Singh Negi said,"As Eastern Sporting Union are the former winners of Hero IWL and have a good squad of youth and experience, our match against them will be a do-or-die one. We have worked on our finishing in the training sessions and are expecting the team to win the game."
Eastern Sporting Union head coach Lourembam Ronibala Chanu also expressed her thoughts on the tie saying,"Yes, it's a must-win match for us and we'll go all out. CRPF are a tough side, but our goal is to win so that we qualify (for the quarter-finals)."
Lords and Churchill play for pride
With only pride left to play for, Lords FA and Churchill Brothers face off against each other at the Shahibaug Police Stadium. While the Kochi-based side have registered a solitary win in the group stage, their Goan counterparts are still looking for their first points of the season.
Speaking about their targets for the final two group stage games, Lords head coach Nirvan Shah averred,"We aim to end the IWL campaign on a positive note. We are confident of beating the Churchill Brothers' defence and winning this match."
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