In one of the most tense and eventful games of the Indian Women’s League 2022-23 season, Gokulam Kerala FC defeated Odisha FC in the quarterfinals, courtesy of goalkeeper Beatrice Ntiwaa Nketia’s penalty shootout heroics at the TransStadia on Tuesday, May 16.
At the end of regular time, the game was locked at 1-1 with Bala Devi and Roja Devi scoring for Odisha and Gokulam respectively. The Malabarians then secured a one-sided 3-0 win in the penalty shootout after their custodian Beatrice made three saves out of three.
It was an end-to-end encounter right from the get-go as both sides meant business. Within two minutes of kick-off, Bala Devi gave Odisha the lead in the game. The skipper headed the ball home from an Anju Tamang corner after she was left unmarked by the Gokulam Kerala defence.
The Malabarians immediately began chasing for the equaliser as they displayed some dangerous attacking moves time and again. On one such occasion, Asem Roja Devi came close to finding the back of the net. But the midfielder’s grounded attempt from inside the box landed straight into goalkeeper Shreya Hooda’s hands.
The defending champions kept pushing for a goal and finally succeeded in getting one deep into the additional time of the first half. Sabitra Bhandari gained possession in a dangerous position and latched it in for an incoming Indumathi Kathiresan. The midfielder passed it onto Dangmei Grace whose attempt was blocked. However, Indumathi once again closed in on the loose ball and the resultant was picked up by Asem Roja Devi who beat goalkeeper Hooda from close range.
Moments into the second half, Gokulam Kerala were dealt a huge blow as Sorokhaibam Ranjana Chanu picked up a second yellow card for a rough challenge on Cynthia Marcondes. Reduced to 10 players, the Malabarians came under pressure.
But the Anthony Andrews-coached side didn’t stop marching forward and rather came close to taking an unprecedented lead in the 55th minute. Dangmei Grace went on a solo run from the centre of the park and saw herself in a good shooting position from the left-hand side of the box. However, her powerful shot hit the wrong side of the post and went out of play.
In the 69th minute again, the Malabarians were denied by the woodwork. This time, it was Sabitra Bhandari who penetrated the Odisha defence before hitting the outside of the post with her grounded effort.
Ultimately, neither side could find the breakthrough as the game progressed to penalty shootouts. Fascinatingly, goalkeeper Beatrice Ntiwaa Nketia, who went on to pick up the Player of the Match Award, was on cloud nine for Gokulam Kerala. The Ghanaian star managed to save all three spot kicks from Odisha’s Anju Tamang, Bala Devi and Pyari Xaxa. Ashalata Devi, Sabitra Bhandari and Indumathi Kathiresan all converted with ease to send the Malabarians into the semifinals in dramatic fashion.