The 2018-19 Indian Women’s League semifinals are upon us, and the Group II toppers Sethu FC are all set to take on Group I runners-up SSB Central Women Football Team at the Guru Nanak Stadium on Monday at 4pm IST.
Sethu FC has been on prolific form so far in this tournament, netting a whopping 34 goals in five matches. SSB, however, have been more of a compact unit that is more than happy to eke out the wins against any opposition.
As we gear-up to find out which of these teams will make it to the final, let’s take a look at how they may face-up against each-other.
SETHU FC: A BLITZKRIEG FROM THE SOUTH
By far, Sethu FC look like the most complete team all around the park. They have played an attacking brand of football, which their coach Amrutha Aravind stressed on, ahead of their semifinal against SSB.
“We have played well in the Group Stage, and we want to continue in the same vein by playing attacking football,” said Sethu FC head coach Amrutha Aravind. “So far, whatever we had worked on the training pitch before the tournament, had worked out for us. SSB are a good young side, but we intend to keep playing our attacking brand off football and march on.”
While they have formidable attackers in the form of India internationals Dangmei Grace and Sandhiya, and Nepal international Sabitra Bhandari, the Madurai team has also shored up its defence with India centrebacks Sweety Devi and Ashalata Devi.
They also have a strong presence in the middle of the park, where the likes of Sumithra and captain Indumathi Kathiresan keep things steady, while Ratanbala Devi bombs forward, aiding the three forwards in attack.
Sabitra Bhandari has been in the form of her life, netting nine goals in five appearances. She is the second highest scorer in the tournament so far, after Bala Devi, who netted 22. Ratanbala (7), Sandhiya (7) and Grace (5), have also been on good scoring form, giving Sethu FC plenty options up front.
SSB WOMEN FOOTBALL TEAM: THE GRITTY DARK HORSES
While the likes of Gokulam Kerala FC, Sethu FC and Manipur Police have taken all the limelight, SSB have quietly gone about their job, piling up four wins from their five Group I matches. They have shown the propensity to eke out the results, and they have come back well to pile on the points after an early 0-5 thrashing at the hands of Gokulam Kerala FC.
“Yes, we had lost badly to Gokulam, but that match gave us the opportunity to retrospect and tweak the way we play,” said SSB Assistant Coach Sujata Kar. “We have analysed Sethu’s game-play and have made our plans accordingly. They may be one of the best teams in the tournament, but we will play to win tomorrow.”
Captain Sumitra Marandi gives them stability at the heart of the defence, while the likes of Sumila Chanu, Sandhya Kachhap and Dular Marandi add the firepower up ahead. However, the main influence in their gameplay comes from the midfield, where Sangita Basfore plies her trade.
Head coach Barun Sengupta has even experimented by playing the India international up front in the first couple of games, but has since deployed her in the middle of the park, where her work-rate and ability to find the final passes have worked wonders for the side from Bengal. While they have generally shown the propensity to eke out narrow wins, Basfore’s brilliance in their match against a tricky Panjim Footballers side saw them earn a big 6-2 victory.