Gokulam Kerala FC began their AFC Women’s Club Championship campaign on a losing note as they went down 2-1 to home team Amman FC on Sunday at the Aqaba stadium. Ghanaian goal poacher Elshaddai Acheampong put Gokulam Kerala in the lead in the 33rd minute but Jordan club Amman FC hit back with gusto in the second half and Maysa Zaid Mahmoud Jbarah (59′) and Samia Ouni (67′) scored to help the home team come out victorious.
While Gokulam did not get an ideal start to the tournament, Iran’s Shahrdari Sirjan sprung a surprise 2-1 win against Uzbekistan’s FC Bunyodkar and turned up the flavour of the tournament.
Gokulam next face Shahrdari on November 10 and then will take on Bunyodkar on November 13 as the team with most points in the end will be declared the champions of the tournaments.
Here are three talking points from Gokulam’s loss against Amman:
1. GOKULAM’S IDEAL START
The Calicut-based club had an ideal start to the match as they weathered an early onslaught from Amman and took the lead soon after the half an hour mark. Gokulam’s goal came off a perfect counter-attack when goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan showed good presence of mind and vision and Elshaddai showed her speed and upper body strength.
Amman’s corner kick was collected easily by Aditi and immediately she noticed Elshaddai up front and the lack of numbers in Amman’s defensive line. She released an accurate long ball towards the Ghanaian striker, who made the best of it.
Elshaddai left behind her marker with her sprint and as the Amman goalkeeper came in an attempt to close her down, she smartly sent a chip over her to find the back of the net.
2. SECOND HALF SLOW DOWN FOR GOKULAM
Gokulam played the first half of the match quite astutely. After the initial storm from Amman, they were able to neutralise the home team quite well. Gokulam showed decent ball retention, had very good intensity as they pressed hard, had sharp movements and the girls communicated well among each other.
However, Amman’s superior fitness and better strategy took over in the second half. After the break, Amman came back with a better understanding of how to break down Gokulam. In the first half as well, Amman players’ technical superiority was evident but they looked hurried and faltered in decision-making. They cut down on those errors in the second 45 minutes and found a way to between in between the lines and create space for themselves, which put Gokulam under pressure and made the players prone to error.
3. GOKULAM ERRORS LEAD TO AMMAN GOALS
Even though Amman played much better in the second half, it were errors from the Gokulam players that led to both the goals. The first goal came off a penalty. While the penalty taken by Jbarah was excellent and Aditi had no chance to save that, the opportunity came as the ball hit Michel Margaret’s extended arm.
Before the second goal, Elshaddai had a golden chance to put Gokulam back in the lead but her shot was off target and had that goal gone in, the complexion of the game could have been different.
The second goal was a direct free kick from Ouni and even though it was a good kick into the near post, Aditi could have done better to save that one. Aditi was slow to react to the shot and since, she is slightly heavy-footed, she couldn’t reach the ball in time to stop the free kick from going in.
Kashmina, however, was the standout player for Gokulam as she displayed boundless energy on and off the ball, had apt intensity, worked extremely hard on the pitch and held her own in the midfield.